John Sinclair's Guitar Army

(Photo by Leni Sinclair)

It is not for nothing that most markets airing the “Freedom Rock” ads — the ones that shilled all those “great tunes” we used to “groove to” back “then” — elected to excise the part where the hippies said, “Remember the ’60s? War, protest... goin’ to jail?” Forgetfulness is the keystone to the arch of total war, but despair at this prospect can be met with only one response: music. To wit, John Sinclair, founder of the White Panthers, manager of the MC5 and hoister of a black flag inscribed with the words “Rock & Roll, Dope & Fucking in the Streets,” unveils the re-release of his book Guitar Army. The book emerged in the wake of Sinclair’s partial serving of a 10-year sentence for giving an undercover cop two joints — and after the John Sinclair Freedom Rally of December 1971 (starring John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Allen Ginsberg, Stevie Wonder and others) led to his release. Tonight’s official launch, on the eve of a 16-date national tour, sees Sinclair reading and joining a discussion panel with MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, former White Panther minister and Detroit poet M.L. Liebler and former National Lampoon editor Michael Simmons, who wrote the new introduction to the book. Guitar Army comes with a CD brimming with music by the MC5 and Black Panther Bobby Seale holding forth on the Whites. Why now? Because terminal forgetfulness, like dreamless sleep, is the enemy, and a sword must be raised as much against the evil of banality as against the banality of evil. John Sinclair at Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice; Fri., April 27, 7:30 p.m.; $7. (310) 822-3006 or

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