Chamblee54

The Great Speckled Bird

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Politics by chamblee54 on January 24, 2018

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One day in the eighth grade, PG had a sore spot in his eye. They called it a stye. One afternoon, he got out of school, walked to Lenox Square, saw a doctor, and got some eye drops.
When he left the doctor’s office, there was a man, standing in front of Rich’s on the sidewalk, selling a newspaper. He had blond hair down past his shoulders. PG asked what the newspaper was. Mostly politics, he said. PG gave him fifteen cents for a copy of “The Great Speckled Bird”.

The Bird was an underground newspaper. It was so bad, it needed to be buried. If you are under fifty, you have probably never seen one. These papers flourished for a while. The Bird was published from 1968 to 1976. The April 26, 1968 edition was volume one, number four. This was what PG bought that day.
The GSU Library has a digital collection. Included in it are copies of The Great Speckled Bird. Included in this collection is edition number four. PG went looking for that first copy. He needed to be patient, for the GSU server took it’s time. Finally, the copy he asked for came up. It was mostly politics.

When PG saw page four, he knew it was the edition from 1968. “Sergeant Pepper’s Vietnam Report” was the story of a young man sent to Nam. It had a paragraph that impressed young PG, and is reproduced here. The rest of the article is not that great, which is typical of most underground newspaper writing.

A couple of years later, PG spent the summer working at the Lenox Square Theater. The number two screen was a long skinny room. If you stood in the right place, you could hear the electric door openers of the Colonial Grocery store upstairs. The Bird salesmen were a feature at the mall that summer, which not everyone appreciated. This was the year of the second, and last, Atlanta Pop Festival. PG was not quite hip enough to make it. He was back in the city, taking tickets for “Fellini Satyricon”. The Bird was printing 26 pages an issue, with lots of ads, pictures, and the distinctive graphics of the era.


Vol.3 no 26 June 29, 1970 was especially memorable. On page 17, there was a bit of eyeroll inducing polemic. PG was easy to impress. The first paragraph is the one that matters. “What is Gay Liberation? It is people telling the truth; it is me telling you the truth NOW, homosexuality is the CAPACITY to love someone of the same sex. For­get all the crap about causes (no one knows and we don’t care), “cures” (there aren’t any, thank god), and “prob­lems.”The only problem is society’s anti-homosexual pro­paganda and the oppression it has produced.”

Stories about hippies, and the Bird, can be found at The Strip Project. This repost has pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

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