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Detroit Annie

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Detroit Annie Hitchhiking” clip by Pamela Roumeno, performed by Ani DiFranco at Carnegie Hall, N.Y, Biographical fantasy poem about Detroit Annie by Judy Grahn, «»


1978 Tambacounda Humanitarian Medical Mission 





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Detroit Annie Bio :

Detroit Annie, styled “First Lady/Queen of the Political Activist Underground” by Creem Magazine’s Dave Marsh in a 1971 “Rolling Stone Magazine” interview, was a prominent feminist media personality of the International Underground Press Movement from ~1968-80, camping a new breed of underground female archetype, solid, reliable, capable, independent and strong, yet decent and incorruptible, earth-mother feminist with her blond hippy wise-child son, commanding the respect of peers in the politico-cultural media movements of the 70s.

From a mixed cultural and politically radicalized family, she participated in early 50s-60s Civil Rights Marches and Anti-War protests with the American Quakers (AFSC), organized high school political protests against Air Raid Drills (which gave students a false sense of security, as if they’d survive nuclear war by crawling under a desk) and against Military recruiting in High Schools. In response to these and other “Free Speech” issues, she organized with a group of friends, a 1964 High School Free Speech Movement Walkout at Cass Tech High School that made national headlines in Time and Newsweek, coinciding with the FSM movement in Berkeley, California, and the blossoming political awareness among Hippies’ Summer of Love.

Detroit Annie, born in Baltimore Maryland, grew up in New York City and, as her family was driven west by political repression, also in Youngstown, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pa, and Detroit Michigan, where she married and had a son, while continuing committement to student political activism at Wayne State University’s pre-medical school (obtaining straight As) until forced to abandon studies to raise her son alone.

Co-founder and co-owner of Detroit’s “Grande Ballroom” Rock Venue from it’s inception in 1966, giving their start to a great number of local bands like the MC5, Iggy & the Stooges, Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen – as well as giving live venues for seasoned bands like Mitch Ryder, Ted Nugent and others – the Grande was soon hosting the greats: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Grateful Dead, Taj Majal, Johnny and Edgar Winter, and even a number of English bands like the Who, T.Rex, countless others -

Moving West in 1968 to see the “Summer of Love” in the Berkeley/San Francisco Bay area, she found a job as chemist and an apartment on Ashbury Street, just two blocks up from the Grateful Dead and two doors up from the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club.

Pushed out of her Chemist job by harrassment, Detroit Annie took her son Jess to visit People’s Park, immediately swept into the ‘police riots’, so after putting Jess in safe hands, shot her first Bay Area photos, published in the Black Panther Paper and Berkeley Barb Newspapers, illustrating reporting on Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, People’s Park Uprisings, Demonstrations and Rock Concerts of all sorts, for most of the Underground Media of the times –

Co-founding Mother and participant in several interesting Counter-Culture Alternate Lifestyle undertakings: The Berkeley Tribe (Co-founder, co-editor, photographer, layout and graphic artist, occasional front office manager etc), the SF Express-Times (same poly-valent coverage), and at Chet Helms’ (RIP) “The Family Dog on the Great Highway at Playland by the Beach and Speedway Meadows” (along with the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia (RIP) & Mountain Girl, Timothy Leary (RIP, the LSD Guru almost-Governor!), Beat Poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti (RIP), Jack Kerouac, Ken Keysey’s (RIP)  “Merry Pranksters”, Hugh Romney/Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm, as a founding mother and frequent contributor at for the “Commons” weekly organizational innovation sessions, yielding the likes of: The Vintage Blues Musician Jams (featuring Blues Classics seldom seen, like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lightning Hopkins, BB King), The Holy Man Jams (Weekly Guru Classes featuring Steve Gaskin (RIP) Alan Watts, Baba Ramdass, Meyer Baba even Ravi Shankar, etc) the (highly educational) Lightshow Guild Strike (sparking coalition Peace talks with Bill Graham (RIP) and Chet Helms meetings along with many others), Permanent onstage photographer at Chet’s previous venu, the Avalon Ballroom, as well as at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West, Whole Earth, Urban Redevelopment Project One, Sundance Magazine, Airwaves Radio and Sound Studios, etc, and participating in many others.

Returning to the Midwest in 1970 to participate in various underground publications (Detroit’s Creem Magazine, Ann Arbor’s Argus newspaper and Morgan Sound Studios, then Chicago’s Seed newspaper, Red Star Press, Acme Radio & Sound Studios) also participating in the organization of independent mass music concerts and events such as Berkeley’s, Chicago’s, Ann Arbor’s and other “People’s Parks”, “The Goose Lake, Michigan Concert to Free John Sinclair”, both 1970 Nationwide Media Conferences: “the Ann Arbor Purist Radical Media Conference” and “the Goddard Vermont Decadent Music Industry Media Conference, then back to the Bay Area where Detroit occasionally read her poetry and collaborated with KQED’s Larry Bensky, KSAN’s Scoop Nisker KSFX radio’s Dave McQueen, & was a permanent freelance writer and photographer for most of the bay areaderground newspapers of the day - as photo-journalist, graphics artist, poet, radio personality.

On 1971, D.A. was called to NY, for a DJ slot at ABC-FM/WPLJ-NY experimental radio, Undergrount Press Service (UPS), Village Voice, Andy Warhol’s “screen tests” and documentaries at “the Factory”, (Thanks Gerard Melanga  for telling me Andy was just dying to meet me – guess Basquiat took over later; shoulda stayed, I painted better, coulda earned my keep and wouldn’t have dipped into the candy jar at all!)

Then in 1972, crossed the Great Waters to prove her mettle as an investigative war zone reporter in Belfast and Londonderry, Ireland (thanks for the darkroom at local Belfast Daily paper), and London (International Times Newspaper, Oz Magazine, Time Out Magazine)

Participating in French Ecology Demonstrations and the Free University of Vincennes student uprising with Daniel Cohn-Bendit (“Danny the Red”, now a retired European Ecology Deputy-Minister).

Unable to get a foothold amongst the staunchly sexist Paris photojournalist and Magnum Photo-agency Clique, moved on to the French Film Industry through Alga-Samuelson’s Vincennes Cinema Lighting and Equipment Studio, downstairs from her first Vincennes apartment with Jesse, where she started out translating technical manuels, moved on to “fixer”, translating, street-guiding and camera work, for Foreign Filmakers working on location in Paris, eventually and after doing a first 1978 documentary film in Africa, as Director and chief Cameraman, also adopted by French documentary crews as cameraman on several documentaries, commercial films and publicity shorts.

Touching and touched by the lives of creative movers and shakers of the 70s, Detroit Annie marked an epoch and changed her World by peaceful non-violent means, leaving footprints and taking memories of the works of many artists, such as the 1970 Judy Grahn poem “Detroit Annie Hitchhiking” performed by Ani DiFranco, at Carnegie Hall, 2002, Commander Cody’s song “Annie’s been working on the Midnight Shift” in 1971, cartoon characters, photos by Chicago Institute’s Bob Mader of the “Cross Country Extravaganza aboard “the Juggernaut Oblivion Express” (name lent to Brian Auger’s rock group “Oblivion Express” at Max’s Kansas City amidst Warhol’s “Factory” “workers” in-crowd), whose Crew included Radio personality/DJ Bob Rudnick, Leslie Smith ( Atherton’s blond bombshell - sic), Ken Babbs, one of the original “Merry Pranksters”, Phil Ochs, A²’s MC5 & Up, and more!

One day fresh from a stint on the rolling extension of Kesey/Romney’s Hippy Hondo “Hog Farm” bought by Keysey’s novel “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”) Detroit stumbled onto Berkeley’s “Bone yard”, an Elephant’s Graveyard for once and future legends of the road, and bought “the Juggernaut Oblivion Express” – a 41 seater, Airforce-blue Troop Transport bus - a 1951 flathead 6, split shift “4 on the floor” 10 wheeler, and (between journalistic responsibilities at various Bay Area Underground Newspapers and the Family Dog) camping out in it for a year at at “Movement Motors”, a hippy mechanics co-op garage, as apprentice to be ready for emergency repairs – while building the custom interior environment (innards) to be used as a rolling media schoolwith a fully functional darkroom in the back – to teach communities to put out their own community papers and change their worlds by being better informed, with higher sights and goals - coast to coast. 

After the Beat Poets’ Hotel in France by Detroit Annie crossed the Great Puddle in Dec 1971, taking odd jobs between reporting stints including artists’ model for  reknowned Parisian artist “Volti” – a sanguine sketch last seen at a St. Honoré Blvd. Art Gallery across the street from Matignon government palace, and later in a Druout art auction catalogue. Finding more freelance jobs translating technical manuals about cinema techniques & equipment, and serving as interpreter-guide-camera operator for Anglophone film crews visiting Paris and more or less commuting back and forth between Paris & SF by six month stints 1972/3, (thanks to incredibly low “youth fares” to encourage youth to travel!) then between Marseille & Paris 73/74, returning to San Francisco Jan 75-June 75 (a 2nd marriage) and then landing in Latin America for 2 years trying to pry her son Jesse home, despite embassy resistance (to no avail) after a month long visit to his father, moved to Latin America – that got prolonged to a year and a half when his dad wouldn’t send him back, so she went down there to get him but got bogged down with Latin American immigration hassles ‘75/77, supporting herself as graphics artist, creating posters, stationary, carved wooden signs for trendy watering holes, reporting for a local expatriate paper on cultural events amongst exiled Argentinean/Chilean artist community after Pinochet’s putsch, participating in film, music and arts festivals in Costa Rica and Guatemala, including a national artisan festival for the ministry of the Economy of the Costa Rican Ministry under President Carazo, and a San José Rock Festival organized by the “Orleans” expatriate bar (beating Richard Nixon’s brother at chess during a backgammon tournament, then beating an Austrian militarist horseback racing - by failing to fall off when the horse bolted!) and a stint building a finca & airstrip in the Jungles bordering with Nicaragua, dispensing free medical care and teaching illiterate Indians - before returning to France due to personal tragedy, badly received but without enuf for a ticket back to Jess, joined a medical mission in Senegal, Africa during the summer of 77, returning again for a documentary film about a similar medical mission in 1978, then a freelance stint for ABC news covering the Somoza uprising in 1979.

Personal betrayals and dramas broke her stride for a while ~1980, somewhere between Africa, Brussels & Crete – she stumbled back to the States 81/82 for a prodigal return to SF that didn’t take – tried again 1983-86 in Chicago and LA – but couldn’t get a foothold –

Returned to Paris, still writing, painting, lying low with odd jobs (inlcuding the legendary Beat Hotel, and “Shakespeare’s & Co”, bookstore founded by American writer Sylvia Beach (who 1st edited James Joyce’s Ulysses and D.H.Lawrence and others) toward the close of WWII on rue Monsieur le Prince, moved across the bridge from Notre Dame, inherited by George Whitman a vagabond she’d taken in as handy-man and left the business to because no children or family – now an “in-crowd” tourist attraction and artists’ landmark in Paris’ American expatriate flea-ridden flophouse and hangout to Beatnik Poets and Jazz/Blues musicians of the 50s & 60s -  A stable period  as practical nurse to children and the aged allowed me to bring Jesse over, then aged 20, and show him the Holy Land & Pyramids, to make it memorable.

Married for a third time in 1991, the couple restored the ruined home of hubby’s grandparents in the North of France, where she resumed Medical studies to enable further humanitarian missions, but despite successful results, was refused  the right to continue because of age and foreign origins, although wealthy male candidates faced no such rejection, and she was openly told later, that with the home they moved to in 2000, she’d have been allowed to finish Med School and embark with “Doctors without Borders”.

Later attempts to finding a serious professional commitment or niche, including via the Internet – always drew the leitmotif reaction of carefully targetted sexist rejection (open insults and humiliation considered valid conditioning for to local mentalities – one appreciates the USA especially once living abroad! At least, one used to; the future seems uncertain!) sabotaged by shameless phallocrats jealous at her inventive alternative solutions skirting all the usual denegrating stereotypes, making it a pointless waste of energy to pursue, and retirement from the fray, a welcome shelter - were finally resorting to hiring herself for a Family History Genealogy Study – so that nobody could fire her or complain about imaginary advantage – but even that was sabotaged, usurped, blockaded, undermined and bollixed by the very beneficiaries, who thought there must be some unfair profit in it for her, which they soon learned was NOT the case – wasted a decade or two on petty rivalries with cousins all over the globe, all strangely ressembling a dismal phallocrat family archetype, which caused a lot more pointless ink to flow. Fortunately no trees were chopped for paper supports; all is so much more easily erased and forgotten, on the virtual battlefield…  plus various other unmentioned but unforgotten internecine movements and rebellions - fond memories, all of which have enriched her memoirs…

Further private studies include Local History, European, Middle Eastern, Egyptian History and Heiroglyphics  research, autodidactic musical instruments, beekeeping, pottery, sculpture, gardening and gentry farming as a pastime.

Still living, writing, painting and puttering in the quiet countryside about 50 miles from Paris, France, while son Jesse  back in the States produced 3 magnificent grandsons – but still, quiet nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be…

Page Created ~Dec 1996

Last Update Dec 2016



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