Interview w/ John Doe at Scallio's Tavern

- October 5, 1989

About his Criminal History

+ Commentary

- as conducted by Mike [tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE]


[This interview was already published in 2 parts in "Street RatBag" issues 3 & 4 &, as such, is a lower priority for re-presenting than other perviously unpublished interviews. HOWEVER, the purpose of the "Interviewee" & "Interviewer" webpages is to collect together any & all interviews I've had a connection with (& can, therefore, feel more comfortable about sharing) & to disseminate them more widely.

The Street Ratbag was originally published in editions of 300 & may not have been widely read or reproduced. I imagine that such an in-depth interview with a bank-robber is fairly rare. As such, I consider it to be historically important despite whatever 'flaws' it may have. - August 23, 2014 note from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE]

Interview w/ John Doe at Scallio's Tavern

- October 5, 1989

About his Criminal History

+ Commentary

- as conducted by Mike [tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE]

In September of '89, I was 'forced' by financial desperation into being a labor pool worker (fortunately for a brief period only). During this time I wrote "An Awful Title.." (under the name of "Mike" because it's my "lowest common denominator" name &, therefore, the name most appropriate for the reductio ad nauseum that the job subjected me to) in order to describe the misery of labor pool work.

The saving grace of this job was meeting my co-worker John Doe [NO, not his 'real' name - I've decided to keep his identity somewhat secret here]. He seemed to be held in low esteem by his fellow workers - apparently because he was a bit 'goofy' - or maybe because he was too much of a bullshitter. I didn't work there long enough to find out. He was nice enough to me though & he provided enough entertainment to make the job 'bearable' (har, har).

After hearing him talk about having been a bank robber, I decided to interview him. We went to Scallio's, where I treated us both to a pitcher or 2 of cheap beer & recorded 90 minutes worth of conversation.

After transcribing the interview I debated the relative merits of publishing it verbatim (as it was transcribed) or editing it to remove redundancies & verbal punctuation such as "uh" & "you know". In some cases I couldn't be sure of place names because I wasn't familiar with them, so I just transcribed John's pronunciation even though I doubt that the resultant spelling is correct.

The advantage to transcribing the language directly is that it can give an accurate picture of what John's actually like. Hence I decided to stick to a straight transcription. Rereading it now (in the 21st century), I can still hear John saying "skeery" - so I consider this writing a success. Some things that might seem irrelevant to the main thrust of the interview (ie: irrelevant to John's criminal history) are included anyway to help, again, give a clearer idea of John's personality & life. My interpolative commentary re the interview is presented in brackets ({}).

At the time, I didn't find John to be a completely credible story-teller - partially because his story was a bit fantastic & partially because he couldn't seem to "get his facts straight". In retrospect though, I don't find his story to be that unbelievable either. After all, I've often found myself faced when disbelief when I've been telling people stories about my own life that are outside the narrow scope of the listener's experience. At any rate, given my skepticism at the time, & given that I simply wanted to seek out supplementary documentation, I decided to try to verify his story somewhat.

First I contacted the SunPapers to try to find out if they had a file about John & his alleged PCP bust or if they could show me a copy of the alleged 4pp spread about the bust. They told me something to the effect that they didn't have files dating back that far &/or that they weren't accessible to the public. Next I checked microfilm copies of the SunPapers for June, July, & August of '75 since this was the time when John claimed to've been busted &, therefore, the time when the Sun article should've come out. This search proved fruitless (& tiresome). John's credibility rating dropped - but my search was far from thorough.

I'm writing much of this intro over 10 years later than the interview, so I don't remember much about my research anymore. I have a vague recollection of going to the Baltimore City Hall & checking their records & finding nothing relevant &/or asking older cops there if they recalled anything about the hypothetical PCP bust. They didn't. The cops suggested checking records at the South Baltimore Police Station but I didn't bother.

In the process of doing this somewhat haphazard research, I did find out about a 'service' of sorts called "Inmate Locator" that I thought might be able to give me info about John's hypothetical prison background. I sent them the letter reproduced below (written as "David A. Bannister") & they replied with a letter of their own + my letter with some additional handwriting on it. I've changed the name of the original inquiry to that of the name substituted in this telling.

April 4, 1990

David A. Bannister


Inmate Locator

Federal Bureau of Prisons

320 1st St. N.W.

Washington D.C., 20534


To Whom It May Concern,

I interviewed a man six months ago whose biographical background I'm trying to confirm. His name is John Doe & he was born in 1953. He claims to have been jailed in Lowell, Massachussetts in 1974 or 1975 for 8 months for having stolen a police car. He further claims to have been imprisoned in the Atlanta Federal Penetentiary for seven years from 1976 to 1983 or 1977 to 1984 for seventeen bank robberies after having been convicted in Virginia. Can you send me any information about John Doe's prison/jail record or direct me to someone who can?

Thank you for your cooperation,

David A. Bannister

Their response reinforced John's story somewhat but is too unspecific to be very helpful. Given that John's 'real name' is somewhat distinct, it's possible that the John that Cathy Tucker refers to may be the same John that I interviewed. If this is the case, then John's story wasn't too far off because he at least mentions being in a prison in Petersburg, Virginia - which I didn't mention in my letter to the prison 'authorities'.

Chances are, John was somewhat of a bullshitter. Nonetheless, I find his story entertaining - if only as a document relevant to a character that briefly enlivened my life. Even if it's mainly fantasy, it still gives a good glimpse into John's mind. Maybe it's even primarily or entirely true?! I don't find the latter possibility entirely improbable.


The Interview

M: So, let's start with some, uh, background 1st.

J: Ok.

M: Why don't ya tell me - just give me a biographical sketch about yourself - like your father being in the military, learning to drive a garbage truck in Turkey & all that stuff.

J: Ok, well it's like - I was an army brat, I grew up on army bases - 'til I was about 10 I thought, you know, a civilian was just a guy waitin' for his uniform comin' back from the cleaners - I thought the whole world was in the army 'til I was about 9 or 10 - & it's like, you know, like everybody hollers about school bussing - I rode a school bus all my life, you know, 'cause we lived on post & we went to the local schools - uhhhh.. we lived in several states, foreign countries - Turkey was the 1st one - I was like, 12 - I went there just - right before Kennedy got assassinated & I stayed there 2&1/2 years & while I was there, as I've told you before, uh, I showed 'em my military I.D. card & told 'em that it was an American I.D., uh, driver's license - & as the country is the type where the people go to work at 9, 10, 11 years old they bought it & my 1st job was driving a garbage truck at the age of 12 - then from there we came back to the States - we were over at uh.. Vinthill {?} at Warrenton, Virginia for a while but my father went to Vietnam so we finally got back to Baltimore where I was born - when I was about 13 - stayed there for a coupla years - didn't get in too much trouble back then, huh!

M: What part of Baltimore were you living in then? South Baltimore?

J: We were living in Brooklyn {a part of South Baltimore}, uh, 4th Street - right off of 4th Street Patapsco-Old Street - Patapsco Avenue - right off there - it was an old school house - 2 stories - used to be a one room school house on the bottom & the teacher lived upstairs - my grandmother lived upstairs - we lived upstairs & my grandmother lived downstairs with my uncle - & then, uh, we went to Massa- - mostly we lived in Massachussetts because my father was in the Army Security Agency & Fort Davin {?} was the headquarters 'til they moved it to Florida - uh.. - I went through Armed Forces Day alot - I, in fact, I have certificates at home - I went through Special Forces training at the age of 16 - including VietCong village night infiltration course & all - then we went to Japan, which was wild - Japan was wild, man - ya go ta Japan - like I said, when I 1st got off the boat, I sat, I was in this big, bigbig, big open, whaddayacallit? - uhhhh, plaz, or sompin' - & like a thousand people were there & I could see over the heads of the entire crowd - 1st time in my life I felt tall - 'cause both my brothers were taller.

M: How old were you then? 16?

J: I was seven-, 16 goin' on 17 then - I stayed there 'til I was 19.

M: Uh-huh.

J: & Japan was a wild place because they love Americans - I'd go down to the local bar - & it would be like college women would come up & buy me drinks &, not every time - say maybe 3 outta every 10 times, they'd take me home - you know, just to talk English to me - couldn't fail man - they love Americans - I loved it - &, uhhh, that's where I started smoking pot & all - I didn't really get into alotta trouble back then - one time we came back to the states when my father retired - he went to Baltimore & I stayed in Massachussetts 'cause I considered Massachussetts home - &, uhhh, for some reason I wudn't too interested in workin' - I figured I'd take my retirement early, you know, while I was young enough to enjoy it 'cause I

M: But you were in the military..

J: I was in the Marine Corps briefly.

M: From what age did you go into the Marine Corps?

J: I went in at 19 right after we came back from Japan & I went to, uh, basic training at Camp LeJeune {?} & all - & I was hangin' aroun' Paris Island while they were sittin' to assign me & at the same time they had just signed the peace treaty in Vietnam - so they gave a bunch of us an early out - they kept the best - I wudn't quite the cream of the crop - I wudn't the worst - I mean I did graduate with dress blues - but they put me out before we could get the G.I.Bill - in fact, I think I was 6 - 5 or 6 days short of the G.I.Bill when they discharged me.

M: So you never went over to Vietnam?

J: No. The war - they had just signed the peace treaty - I was, I had volunteered - of course, you know - 1st thing they ask you when you hit boot camp is "Will you volunteer for hazardous duty?" & what I told 'em was if I wouldn't why would I've joined the Marines? - &, uhhh but, the main reason I joined the Marines instead of the Army was my father told me the Army didn't train the same as - anymore, you know, they just trained ya 9 to 5 & stuff like that whereas the Marines was like he was trained when he went inta the army - so, my father had a great deal of influence over me, still! - but, uh...

M: What rank was you father?

J: My father retired as a master sargent - he was on the list for sargent major but my mother got sick - & they wanted him ta go to Thailand but ya can't take your family - & he's a little bitter about that too - 'cause they'd jes be kickin' him out about now &, coincidentally my big brother's been in for jes over 20 years & he's on the list for sargent major & he'll probably stay in & get it & at least through his son he can vicariously see it - &, uhhh.. so, anyhow, after my father retired & went to Baltimore I stayed in Massachussetts & I had trouble findin' work - that's when I started gettin' into like dealin' drugs - for a while we were

M: So you were what? 19?

J: 19 or 20, 21 - & then we were uhh..

M: Dealin' pot, mainly?

J: Mostly pot - I didn't - I knew this guy ___ _____ on the scale of 1 to 10 - most people in the heh were closer to like point 7, point 9, point 1.1 - this guy was pushin' 3.9 - that's how I got into acid - this guy come up with like 5 hits of orange sunshine & he said, uh, "Take half a tab"

M: Let's not mention any names in connection with something..

J: Well, uh, they can't find him now - Ok, he said take half a tab, right? you can always edit it out.. &, uhh - so we took a half a tab - me & ma brother &, uhh, we got off so good we took the other 2 each & then we bought a bottle of Jose Cuervacu {?} gold label tequilla, had a big fight over the worm, then we split it in half, then we - neighbors tell us we run naked in the snow & made snow angels & I woke up like 9 days later in Rochester, Maine at the State Fair in my father's car - they had A.P.B.s out - that's how I hooked up with these people - I ended up in a stolen car ring - I must've stolen sompin like 200 cars over the next 2 years - &, uh, I never got caught for that, but they can't prove it - so,

M: Lemme know if there's anything that you don't want me to include in the interview when it's printed

J: Right

M: Anything that might be incriminating to you

J: Right, well they can't prove that anyhow

M: Well, just - I mean keep stuff like that in mind

J: But, I got - I did get busted at the age of 21 - I had stolen a police car - I was on acid - see, I used to have a candy dish fulla acid in my apartment - I was really heavy into acid - one summer I did acid every day

M: Blotter acid?

J: It was mostly yellow or orange sunshines - sometimes little white windowpanes, you know - or purple haze - purple haze usta be a trip, man - everything was purple {ok, this is the kind of thing that make's John's story shaky - there ain't no acid that makes everything look like it's a single color that I know of. Then again, John could just be bubbling over with fanciful enthusiasm} - you'd have purple dragons comin' outta the wall - shit like that - &, uhh - anyhow, for some stupid reason, I thought it would be fun to drive a police car - I'm goin' down Route 2 in Massachussetts, 90 miles an hour, lights on, sirens goin', & all kinda cops behind me

M: While you were trippin'?

J: Yep. I was trippin' outta my mind - so I got a

M: I've gotten into trouble with the cops before, tripping

J: I got a year - they sent me into BelRicca {?} - but I couldn't stay in BelRicca 'cause my brother had been locked up there & my brother had escaped twice so they figured we'd escape again so they sent me into Lowell, Massachussetts - the jail was built before the Civil War - did not have indoor plumbing - had those little chemical port-a-pots - had ta empty 'em every morning before breakfast - that was a trip

M: What was your brother in for?

J: He was in for, uh, contributing, believe it or not, his girlfriends were underage but the kid was only 18 himself - he'd just turned 18 & they busted 'im - they used it as a way ta git 'im - caught 'im with his girlfriend

M: They knew he was doin' other stuff?

J: Right, but they couldn't get nothin' on 'im - so, ta make a long story short, I did 8 months on a year & I got out of state, unsupervised parole with only one condition - do not return to the state of Massachussetts - so they deported me

M: For how long? For the rest of your life?

J: For as long as the - for as long as the parole lasted - a year - if they'd caught me there, they'd'a put me back in jail - now they couldn't - now they wouldn't even remember me, you know - but it's been - Christ, that was almost 20 years ago - almost - it was about 15, anyway - so, anyhow, then I came ta Baltimore & I worked a little bit

M: So you were what, 22?

J: 21, 22 when I got released - &, uh, I worked some odd jobs & then, uh, I got a 4 page write up in the Baltimore Sun in '75 - me & my brother, we had stolen a chemistry lab from uh Southern High

M: See, I wanna try to research this a little bit, right, like get copies of the articles & stuff like that - so, if you can remember as exactly as possible what dates the article

J: It was, uhhh, well it was in June or July we got arrested - we got released in August - so... - I'll explain that in a minute - so it had to be somewhere in the summer - say June to August '75 - somewhere in there, I can't remember the exact date

M: What's your full name - see, I can call the SunPapers

J: John Doe - D,O,E

M: D,O,E - 'cause they have files - they have a file on me - they might have a file on you

J: They said it was like the most sophisticated lab they ever saw - which was a complete chemistry lab from Southern High School we had stolen & the reason why they could prove we had stolen it - this guy not only drew a plan but he drew pictures - he was an artist - Us! - he drew pictures of us goin' into the window & stealin' & gettin' it all - so, how we beat that while we were in jail - they'd taken the PCP, the alleged PCP, and they had put it in a drug locker - but not a refrigerated drug locker - so, a month later when they sent it for chemical analysis what they had was 80% water & chemical sludge on the bottom - which, if mixed together, would constitute PCP - however, not mixed, it is not PCP - boy was they hot - they hated us - but, we beat the charge, right, although my brother did get probation on somethin' related ta

M: This was your brother that'd been in jail before?

J: Right. He got federal probation for 3 years or something related - he moved to Virginia - he straightened right out - me, I had to learn the hard way - so, I was livin' & workin' in Baltimore - in the Baltimore area

M: So, did they have you locked up for like a month or somethin'?

J: About 3 months - 3 months in the Baltimore City Jail on the Marshall Tier - awaitin' federal court & they had ta dismiss the charges against me - although they had my brother on sumthin' like buyin' illegal stuff

M: How'd they catch you?

J: They followed us from New Jersey, where we bought the chemicals, - we almost lost 'em down 'ere by, uhh, Spring Grove in the graveyard but they followed us through the graveyard & we never saw 'em

M: You mean you bought it from a chemical house supplier?

J: We bought 'em in New Jersey

M: & they knew that those particular chemicals would be used

J: Would make PCP, exactly - & they were really upset 'cause we had the guv'ment formula - the bonafide guv'ment formula -

M: So you had been doin' this - How long had you been doin' this before they caught you?

J: Uhhhh.. - we actually just made our 1st batch - most people what they made was called DiMethylTriptaline - DMT - it's one ingredient short of the government formula - we had the actual guverment formula which we got from the Anarchist Cookbook from my friends in the Weather Underground

M: Oh, yes, I'm familiar with that.. {& somewhat distrustful of it}

J: Well I got it from my friends in the Weather Underground - most people I grew up in high school with ended up in Students for a Democratic Society & some of 'em ended up in the Weather Underground

M: So, these were all people that you knew..

J: From school, right.

M: From school where, though?

J: In Massachussetts.

M: Massachussetts - but I thought you were in Japan from 17 to 19..

J: Right, but when I came back out, they were still there - I came back to Massachussetts

M: So you were in Massachussetts, then you went to Japan, then you ran back into those people

J: I'd say from my earliest age until I was like 21 I spent more than half my life, off & on, at Fort Devons {?}, Massachussetts - we'd go to like Turkey & come back - we'd go to Virginia & come back & we'd go to Japan & come back - but that's where Army Security Headquarters was - Army Security Agency - before they moved it ta Florida - which was about '75 I think they moved it before my father retired &, uh, he worked in a place that was called Revere Hall where it was against the law to take a picture of him, right? soo.. gettin' back to that, so I got back out on the PCP charge - & back then I like to point out that nobody smoked PCP - nobody wanted it & this stuff was so pure

M: Well, I dunno - I did PCP back then

J: Well, not in Baltimore anyway - South Baltimore

M: Yep -

J: Well, I didn't know ya! hahaha!

M: I didn't know you

J: I didn't know anybody, right?

M: No, that's uh, I smoked PCP when I was about, uh 22, 23 - which would've been

J: about that same area - you're the same age as me

M: & I got it from somewhere in South Baltimore - yeah

J: Well, I must've had the wrong connections - but this stuff was so pure ya put a drop on your tongue & you would just fly for 9 hours I couldn't - me, myself, could not handle it - I'd git too far out - I'd lose touch with reality -

M: I didn't have a very good time with it

J: I never had a hard time with acid but with PCP - 'cause even with acid I knew I was hallucinating - but with PCP, I would lose touch with reality - I actually had to sit inna chair & hold on & tell myself the chair is real

M: I never got that high so I don't think I had very pure stuff - so I.. had some pretty bad experiences & stuff doing it

J: Right. plus I had already done that Transcend{en}tal Meditation & had had an out-of-body experience so when I hit this stuff it threw me right outta my body, ya know? & it's skeery! to be detached from your body

M: Well, what kindof out-of-body experiences did you have?

J: Uh, it was guided - like the guy - sortof like a guru - he, he, he - it might've been sortof a form of hypnosis now that I think about it 'cause he'd guide you through it & he'd take you & then you'd be like in space & stuff

M: So, who was this guy? Was he like in a group or?

J: It was a Krishna Consciousness temple - I forget his name - Bhagwan somebody - &, uhh - it was a temple up in Massachussetts - I was hangin' around with the Krishna people too - I never shaved my head or nuthin' - I never really got in - my brother did, I never really got into it - To this day, my brother's a vegetarian - me, I'd get, after about 8 months, I'd have ta have a hamburger, right?

M: Yeah, I'm not too good at bein' a vegetarian, myself

J: In fact, I like to tease my brother about the fact that one time he ate a fly & the Hare Krishna stood on the steps for 5 days chanting but, anyhow, so I stayed in Baltimore for a coupla years after that & worked on & off dealin' a little on the side

M: What kind of jobs did ya do?

J: All kinds of jobs - I worked for temp agencies, I worked stock, shipping clerk type jobs - not too many drivin' jobs for some reason 'cause I liked to drive - &, uhh, them jobs in Massachussetts, I had 3 or 4 jobs drivin' trucks - but, for some reason, I just never even, never even tried to get one - I was too stoned all the time

M: You smoked alotta pot?

J: Oh man, I used ta go through about an ounce a week! {pot was CHEAP in those days}

M: Yeah, I used ta do about that much..

J: But uhh, anyhow so I moved ta Virginia 'cause I got tired - I had, the last job I had in Baltimore was in fact drivin' for the Hess company down the beltway & all & I got tired a that so I moved to Virginia & actually got a job drivin' for Merchant Tires drivin' up the beltway ta Baltimore but while I was in Virginia is when I uh - I wudn't workin' too often & I uh had alotta bills built up - ya know - & I had a girl I was livin' with we'd jest got married - she was pregnant - so that's when I started robbin' banks

M: So, how old were you then?

J: Uhh, I was 24 -

M: So, you were robbin' banks 'cause you needed the money &..

J: Right - plus I used the money to pay off - like I went through a computer school & then with a background check nobody would hire me & uhh.. - for computer programming - because I was, my criminal record - & uh, it's like I say, I didn't do it so much because that's where the money is but because I figured, you know, if you're gonna do it you might as well do it right - then if ya go inta a store where the guy's worked 15, 20 years then he's gonna pull a gun & then ya got 2 choices I don' like - ya either shoot him or he shoots you - & I don't like those choices - you go to a bank, they're trained not to interfere, right? ya let 'em hit the alarm & all but so what?

M: Can you describe your 1st bank robbery to me?

J: MmHmm - It was in Manassas, Virginia - This is all public record

M: Yeah, but, like I said - don't tell me anything that..

J: Right. This was uhhh - I was really skeered, I was playin' it real well, it was the only one I ever did that was really close ta home - as a matter of fact, I lived about 9 blocks away - right? but, you know, I was an amateur - I hadn't figured out how to do it - well, I had an escape route you wouldn't believe - that's why they couldn't catch me - I was home before they got there - but, uhh - I didn't use a disguise - but, the disguise, ya walk in with - even with the sunglasses & a hat makes 'em a little suspicious & I already had real long hair & a beard - you know,

M: So, you just looked the way you ordinarily looked?

J: Yeah, I - back then I had real long hair & a beard - which I cut off right afterwards - good disguise - got a short shag & shaved - & I walked in - it was really skeery, they go "Can I help you?"

M: Did you have a gun on you? or?

J: I had a note sayin' I had a gun - which at the time I didn't - later on, with the money, I bought a gun - but I never used it, hunh! but, anyhow, & I handed 'em a note sayin' I had a gun, right? & as they stepped back, they stepped back, I got on the counter & I went to the 2nd drawer on the bottom

M: You got on the counter

J: Right. I made 'em step back

M: Oh, now, wait a minute - There weren't any sortof like bullet-proof glass..?

J: No, it was jes regular 3 little teller windows small little country bank

M: Country bank, so, there wudn't anything to prevent you from getting over the counter? To where the money was?

J: Right. No bars or nuthin'

M: I'd be surprised if they have any of those banks left! {They still did as of 1995 - & might still}

J: Probably not, now - but uh.. - I didn't touch the top drawer 'cause that's where they keep the bait money - that's the money that turns into tear gas or blows up or some way or another so that they can track you, right - &, uhh - I went to the bottom drawer & I got all the 10s & 20s

M: This is right where the teller's sitting

J: Right. 'cause right below her cash drawer there's another drawer where they take all their 10s & 20s - when they got so many of 'em, they band 'em up, but they haven't recorded any of the serial numbers - they stick 'em in that drawer 'til the end of the day when they turn it in & I did, uhh, 2 drawers - I was too paranoid to stay there long - I was there about 3 minutes - I did that drawer, moved to the other drawer & left

M: You just pulled them open & pulled out everything you could?

J: Right.

M: Did you have a bag with you or something?

J: No, actually, I didn't - at the time, I was stuffin' it in my pockets - I had a big coat - & then see..

M: Was it wintertime?

J: No, uh, well it was cool, it was around fall time - it was aroun'

M: So a big coat didn't seem too..

J: October to November - Right. Yeah, it wasn't quite freezin' cold but it was chilly - really, really chilly - & anyhow, I did 2 windows & made my escape 'n' all - &, then, what really tipped me off was that see I knew that psychologically people have a picture in their mind of a bank robber & I figured the description wouldn't quite match but when I read the description in the paper - man, uh, I was over 6 foot tall, powerfully built, with long hair 'n' all so the 1st thing I did was cut my hair short & get rid of the beard - & the artist's drawing looked so much more menacing & meaner 'n', 'n', 'n'.. it didn't look nuthin' like me - more like my cousin - or my brother even - glad my brother didn't get arrested - I wouldda had ta turn myself in - but, uhh.. - so, that emboldened me - so I went out & bought a 357 Magnum

M: How much did you make on that uh

J: I made, uh, on the 1st one I made $6,392.00 - I counted it - I don't know how the 2 got in there but there wuz sompin' small like

M: Maybe it was 2 bucks of your change

J: Well actually, when I took the 10s & 20s there was actually a stack of 2 dollar bills - why it was in the drawer I don't know but it was a stack - I don't know exactly but it wudn't an exact amount which kinda threw me - & the 2nd thing I noticed was about when I was readin' it was that they had padded it - now, I don't know if they went in & took more money out or if they were balancin' their books but the money they reported stolen was like, uhh, 86 hundred & I only got 64 & change so - either they went in there & grabbed a buncha money or they balanced their books

M: One way or the other, they were rippin' the place off & taking you as an excuse

J: before the cops got there, Right - he robbed a bank - this is how much he got

M: Which I would probably do today if I worked there, haha!

J: Yeah, right.. - & then, uh uh, I lived on that for a long time & then I actually got a job in between but it was so easy I had bought a 357 Magnum - 1st gun I owned - except for the 22 target pistol I had in the corps &, uh, on the next job I had it on me

M: That can shoot 6 rounds, is that the 357 Magnum?

J: It holds 9, the Magnum's a 9 shot revolver - I suppose you can get it with 6 - mine had 9

M: I just didn't know - some are 9, some are 6, that's why I was asking

J: Mine had 9 in the barrel, in the drum, or whatever you call the revolving part - the revolving part - I suppose you get it either way I didn't specify - it's just the one he handed me - it was $257.00

M: Did you have any trouble getting it?

J: No, as a matter of fact, I didn't. I had to fill out a form sayin' "Have you ever been arrested?" & I said no; "Have you ever had a mental illness?" I said no - lyin', right!? "Do you ever do drugs?" No. Right? They didn't do a background check, no waiting period, no nothin' - paid 'em - it was $257.99 - Right there.. - I wrote 'em a check, a rubber check - so, I didn't want um to get me in trouble for bouncin' checks - so, I planned & executed my next job, huh! - Next job, which I won't specify where, I think I made 78 & change - 78 hundred - which is right about what I averaged on 'em all - Most I ever made off a job was like 17,000 sumpin'

M: So this wudn't in Virginia anymore?

J: No, this was all over the place

M: Would you research where to go? Would you drive around to find a place or did you?

J: I always had jobs drivin' trucks & I just noticed places

M: Places that didn't have bullet-proof glass or anything like that

J: Right. & then I'd go back & check the wiring - to see if they were wired for close-circuit TV or an alarm - well, they've all got an alarm - close-circuit TV or sompin' like that

M: If they didn't have close-circuit TV

J: I'd move in like Flynt, right? because they're always gonna give a description that I'm bigger or more mean or menacin' & the artists's drawin's don't look nuthin' like me - alright, well I was averagin' say 78 hundred a pop & they do know that I did quite a few - we'll leave the exact number out - uh, in case I forgot to tell 'em about one or two - 'cause that was one of the conditions of the plea bargain - I hadda - I don't know if I could remember 'em all - but, uhh, as honestly as I could, I did tell 'em - I wanna mention that - in case they read this, but, uhhh

M: Roughly speaking though, as far as you can remember it was?

J: 17

M: Over a period of 7 years, right?

J: Right. - Well, actually, it was over a period of 2&1/2 years - 7 years was what I spent in jail & that was - I been out 7 years, now - that was 14 years - which doesn't add up right 'cause this is '89 & I got 12 - musta started a little sooner - & ended a little later

M: So, you started when? Around when you were about 24 which would put it about '77, right?

J: Yeah, right in about '77 & I got arrested at the end of '77, so I must've started around '76 so I was about 23 - see the whole period from the time I went to Virginia & all that is kindof a blur - 'cause it's so long ago

M: So you did commit about 17 robberies in about 2 years.. - every 1&1/2 years

J: About a year & a half - about 1 every other - about 2&1/2 years - sumpin' like that - about the end of '75 to the end of '77 - about 2 years - not exactly every month - but close enough 'cause, you know, the more I got away with it, the more frequent they became

M: So what'd ya do with all this money? I mean you were makin' pretty good money then by doin' this

J: Yeah.. & I was partyin' like crazy & I was, uh, givin' money ta family & friends

M: Did people know where the money came from? Your family?

J: No, no, uh - the only one I was dumb enough to tell was my ex-wife

[end of part 1]

As reported in Street Rat-Bag #3, in September of '89, I was 'forced' by financial desperation into being a labor pool worker (fortunately for a brief period only). During this time I met my co-worker John Doe [NO, not his 'real' name] who told me that he had been a bank robber & I decided to interview him over a couple of pitchers of beer. Given that this is the 2nd quarter of the interview, I'm more drunk here & my questioning probably deteriorates somewhat (not that it was ever that great to begin with, eh?).

In the 1st part of the interview, John told about his childhood as an "army brat" growing up on military bases, driving a Turkish garbage truck at age 12, going to Japan as a teenager, being in the Marines briefly, going to jail for stealing a cop car while on acid, getting caught for trying to set up a PCP lab, pulling off his 1st bank robbery, & buying a gun.

Bank robbers will probably always occupy a place of importance in resistance folklore because of their potential 'Robin Hood' nature. After all, banks are one the centers of an economic system that obviously benefits the ruling elites far more than they'll ever benefit the poor. So who cares if someone robs them?

At the time, I didn't find John to be a completely credible story-teller - partially because his story was a bit fantastic & partially because he couldn't seem to "get his facts straight". In retrospect though, I don't find his story to be that unbelievable either. In fact, I tend to believe him more or less completely as I realize that his knowledge of certain things, such as the names of prisons, is accurate as far as I can tell. My editorial comments are interpolated in brackets ({}).


The Interview (continued from Street Rat-Bag 3)

{The 1st few exchanges here are reproduced from the end of the 1st interview to help maintain continuity}

M: So you did commit about 17 robberies in about 2 years.. - every 1&1/2 years

J: About a year & a half - about 1 every other - about 2&1/2 years - sumpin' like that - about the end of '75 to the end of '77 - about 2 years - not exactly every month - but close enough 'cause, you know, the more I got away with it, the more frequent they became

M: So what'd ya do with all this money? I mean you were makin' pretty good money then by doin' this

J: Yeah.. & I was partyin' like crazy & I was, uh, givin' money ta family & friends

M: Did people know where the money came from? Your family?

J: No, no, uh - the only one I was dumb enough to tell was my ex-wife

M: Your ex-wife. So, you've been married how many times?

J: Just once.

M: Just once.

J: Just once.

M: So, you mean your wife while..

J: Right. My wife at the time - Everyone else thought I was like a travelling salesman

M: What did she think of it?

J: She thought it was great! She thought it was great while the money was cummin' in until I got arrested - & it was her brother who turned me in -

M: Yeah. So what was your wife like?

J: She was ok - it's not like I was deeply in love with her or anything - I loved her, but I wudn't in love with her - but she was pregnant & had my only child - so, I married her & all.. & she was a decent person & all - well, at 1st, she recoiled in horror & stuff like that but she got used to the idea & she liked the money - so, you know.. - in order to protect her & my son, though, I won't give her name out - I'll give you her 1st name - it was Linda {NO, not her 'real' name}

M: No,no,no - don't do that.. - don't even bother

J: Right. But, uh.. - - then see, I don't know when or where but she told her brother what was goin' on & then at the 1st opportunity when he got arrested with, I think it was a half ounce a marijuana, he spilled his guts on everybody in town & I was 1 uv 'em {DON'T YOU JUST HATE PEOPLE LIKE THAT?}

M: Let's get to that later. Did you know that he knew that you were doin' this?

J: No, not until I got arrested. Ohh, not until I got arrested.

M: He never talked with you about it or anything

J: No, no - he never - he just held it - sumpin', sumpin' - I guess the 1st chance he got to use it, he used it though

M: Sounds like a real shit, alright

J: Yeah, he was also 1 of the people that was gettin' lots a money offa me - you know, 'cause I had lots of money - I'd give 'im a hundred or 2 hundred dollars - I didn't care - it was my wife's brother, right? yeah, he always had some scheme goin' - it never turned out or if it did, I never got the money back

M: So, anyway, after the 1st robbery, you started carryin' the gun every time you went in or what?

J: Uh, well I started, I bought it, at 1st, I told myself, just for target shootin' 'n' all, although why would you want a 357 Magnum for target - it's jest it was big & ugly & I couldn't figure I could handle a 44 Magnum - &, umm, but then - it's alotta fear - you get all psyched up & ya gotta, ya gotta prepare yourself 'n' all an it's not like I would ever shoot anybody in the bank - but, I was gonna, I was young & cocky - you know, I thought, they'll never take me alive - although when they did take me, I didn't even go for my gun, you know? You know, at the time when it came down & I looked at it, I didn't wanna die - but I was tellin' myself, you know, di-di-di-di-dit - so, 1 of my illusions that maintained me through the time - I thought I was a real bad person, a real bad-ass, but I wasn't - I found out when they arrested me - 'cause I walked outta the vet with a dog in my arms, my little puppy, & I'm surrounded by a sea of cops, I didn't even make a move, I said "Don't shoot, you'll hit ma dog", right?! - but, even if I hadn't had the dog, I probly wudna tried it - I mean, they didn't have guns drawn on me or nuthin' but let's face it, besides that my brother was a cop! & I, I, it's, it's

M: Which brother?

J: My older brother.

M: The 1 who's still in the military?

J: He's an M.P. in the army, right. - & it's jest - I've never ever ever really wanted - hated the police or anythin' - even before he became 1 - I've always liked police - you know, I guess it's 'cause when I's a kid you grew up 'n' all you know with the kid, the guy on the block 'n' all, you know, but anyhow, I never held it against 'em either - I figured they jest were doin' their job - in fact, like I've told you before, the guy who arrested me was a black police officer - they had uh, a thing where after 5 years in plainclothes you'd go back to uniform or they'd make you a detective - he was so good that they weren't sendin' him back to uniform but he was black so they weren't makin' him a detective - so he was still plainclothsman after 7 years - & because he arrested me, he did get his gold permanent detective's position & he came down ta the jail & took, had me sign my mug shots & fingerprint sheets & everythin' as souvenirs & I did it gladly - I didn't hold it against the guy - he's just doin' his job - besides that, he coulda been a lot meaner about it, ya know? - well he was pretty nice about it -

M: Well tell me some, uh, were there any.. - I guess, I take that all of the banks that you did, they didn't have any sortof bullet-proof glass, they didn't have any guards

J: No, no. Mostly it was like 1 or 2 tellers at the most

M: Never a guard, never a camera.

J: Nope. Hardly ever a manager on the premises - &, uh, mostly small farm towns where the, you know, seed money comes in certain times each year & all that

M: So, let's say, 1 to maximum 3 tellers

J: Yeah.

M: What kinda thing would happen? Did anything ever go wrong? - when you went in..

J: No, uh, though 1 time I actually, where was it?, hmmm, it was in Virginia, I guess, & uhhh, I'd actually had jest come outta the bank & was gettin' in my getaway vehicle, & I pulled out & I was makin' - I have ta explain sumpin': I have read sumthin' whereas most people who are makin' a getaway will take the 1st right & then either the 1st or 2nd right & I always constantly chose ta take the 1st left & then the 1st left again so the cops would go 1 way & I'd go another &, in this case there

M: Where'd you read these articles?

J: Uh, jeez, what kinda magazines? I usta read Psychology Today & a couple others but I don't know if it was that or, or, uh, a law enforcement or sumpin' - I can't remember 'cause it was so long ago but it was in 1 of those magazines - I usta read all kinds a magazines - I think it was in Psychology Today, I'm not sure though, but, the 1st left was so far away that I was actually forced to take the 1st right & as I was turnin' ta the right the police wuz cummin' down to hit the bank - that was the skeeriest moment I ever had - yeah, but I got, they didn't turn around, they didn't mark me or nuthin'

M: What about the getaway vehicle? Would you use your own car? Or?

J: Uhuh.

M: Would you steal a car?

J: I would generally steal a car. Although sometimes I've actually rented vehicles.

M: You'd steal a car that day, for example.

J: That day or the day before. From outta state or far away so that it wouldn't be on the hot sheet in that local area

M: Right, but you would still have the same tags on it? Or?

J: Or sometimes I would steal & change tags - usually I didn't keep it that long, I'd just leave it like it was & I'd park it a couple blocks away, down the alley, or whatever - I'd have my escape route - I would escape on foot to the vehicle & drive from that point so that I wudn't jumpin' to a car so that nobody could see me jump into a car & takin' off - Which worked out fine - which is why when I cut that corner the police didn't even know it was me 'cause they were still goin' 3 blocks away ta the bank - &, uhh, that was 1 of the skeeriest moments - the worst 1 I ever remember was I actually robbed this bank in Haymarket, Virginia - &, uhh, did the 2 windows, I think I got 82, sompin' like that, ralfly, can't remember the zact figure, but, as it turns out, it was a small town, there was only 2 police officers & 1 police car, the chief of police, there was only the chief & the deputy, the chief of police had the only police car in another town testifyin', the deputy of the chief of police was asleep at home, the county police took 25 minutes ta get there - I coulda emptied the vault & got $3,000,000.00 - Buy, did I hate readin' that in the paper! BOOYY, did I hate readin' that in the paper! But, you play the percentages - right. I was never in a bank more than 5 minutes - in fact, I'd say 3&1/2 - but, I never, 5 minutes

M: So, before you ever got into bank robbing, did you ever have a bank account or anything?

J: Sure, I had a bank account all along. In fact, I had a bank account, not in that branch, but in the 1st bank I ever robbed - First Virginia Bank - Yup! Not in the bank I hit, but

M: But a different branch, though

J: Yeah. A different branch, though - but, uhh, it was hairy

M: You weren't worried that they might recognize you or whatever - that they might - that you might walk in 1 day &..

J: I wouldn't walk back into that same branch - it wudn't the branch I would ordinarily use - same bank, but, uh, I mean unless they transferred tellers & they - but, then again, it's like - 1 time I did actually walk by the 1st bank I hit & nobody recognized me - it was like from the description they didn't see me they saw the bank robber

M: It has alot to do with the psychology of it anyway - if you look like you're a happy-go-lucky whatever type of person & you're walking by they're not going to have those associations

J: Right. I'm not standin' there lookin' all menacin' at 'em - I'm robbin' the place - plus, in their own mind, they have an image of a bank robber, that's superimposed over what I really look like - they wouldn't recognize me

M: That's the way things work all the time, anyway, most people always have stereotypes that they superimpose over everybody

J: Right. So, anyhow, that's pretty much the sum & total of it - here & there, I'd pick a bank & do it & I got away with it for a while & the more I got away with it, the more I did it

M: So, how much do you think you made total over these 2 years or whatever that you were robbing banks?

J: Well, I'd say, if you just figger out roughly, 17 times 78.. 7, uhh, roughly almost a hunnerd gran' - or, a little over a hundred grand

M: Uh, it it would be over a hundred grand - it would be like 150 grand - something like that

J: Now, I can't believe how fast I spent it - I didn't buy no big house or fancy cars - I had cars, but they weren't brand new, they were used cars - I'd change 'em often - but, I did give away alotta money & buy alotta drugs & give 'em to people & stuff like that

M: Still mainly pot, or did you ever get into any other drugs?

J: Just pot - maybe acid every once in a while - I never was really heavy into coke or anything like that - I have tried 'em but I never really liked 'em that much - plus, I didn't like the prices - &, uhh, I got away with it for quite a while - but, then, they busted me &

M: So, what happened? Decribe the scene when you got busted. They came to your house where you were livin'?

J: I was cummin' out of the veternary's office - as I was goin' in, this black detective what I was talkin' 'bout was drivin' by & he happened to see me & my brother-in-law had already given 'em my name - they'd already gotten my jacket & all - they was lookin' for me - so, he, uh, sumpin' clicked in his head, & he went back & he looked up 'n' all & he checked the fliers 'n' all & got it 'n' said "That's him" - got a coupla uniformed

M: Your brother-in-law didn't know where you were livin'?

J: They'd already been by my house that day as it turns out - I didn't know - I was out doin' whatever I was doin' that day - 1 thing was goin' ta the vet - &, uh, that's why he got his gold shield - they said it was great detective work - he went back there got a coupla uniformed cops - they were waitin' for me cummin' outta the vets! - with my little doggie in my arms - my sister-in-law's in the van with the dogs & cats - they open the door to search it, man, & all the dogs & cats get away - they had to round them up - I'm standin' there surrounded by cops - man, they were there searchin' me - takin' my gun offa me, man - they wudn't real mean about it though - they cudda put the cuffs on all tight stuff

M: So, at that point, did you usually carry a gun?

J: At that time, I was so paranoid, I always had a gun on me. Always.

M: Where'd you have it? Where'd you keep it?

J: In my back, the small a my back - didn't have a holster or anything

M: Stuffed down in your pants

J: Right. In - behind the belt - safety on, thank god - didn't wanna blow my butt off - &, uhh, plus, I don know, I was, when I was younger, man, summin' about havin' a gun - it makes you feel more powerful & ya ain't afraid uh nobody all & it's stupid

M: What makes me feel powerful is having alotta friends

J: MMHmm, Heh! Well heh! I'm older and wiser now, right? I hadta learn the hard way, what can I say? But, uhh, it was a trip - it was a fright show - goin' ta jail & knowin' I'm gonna be there forever & shit, man, I was lookin' at 2 life sentences &, uh, 135 years

M: So, what was your trial like?

J: Oh man, the judge

M: How long did it take, 1st of all, lemme get to this - you were in Virginia at this time, right?

J: Right.

M: You got arrested, they put you in the lock-up for however long,

J: A county jail

M: Right, & how long did you stay in the county jail before you had a trial?

J: Well, from the time - the time it was all finished, it was about 4 months before I was sentenced & sent down the road - & then I hadta sit in another jail for a while & be transported by the marshalls 'n' all before I ended up in the - I got my number, eventually, in Ashlian {?}, Kentucky - my federal prison number, but I was only there like 60 days in & out ta see the Parole Board & then I went, uh, to - no, I went to Virginia, which 1 is it?, Powa?, not Powatan {?} - that's the state - uhh.. - it starts with a P - Petersburg - &, uh, I was in a drug abuse program there 'n' all, & I screwed up & then I's

M: You were in a drug abuse program? Just because of smokin' pot?

J: 'Cause there were drugs on my records, yeah. Sellin' drugs 'n' all. They made me go to

M: Just because you'd been caught with the PCP

J: Yeah.

M: About from the time you were doin' PCP, did you smoke alot of PCP? Or?

J: Hardly ever. I tried a coupla times, I didn't like it.

M: So, you were just makin' it because you could make money off of it

J: Right & I got busted with my 1st batch.

M: Yeah, well that was because you were stupid enough to be buying the chemicals from the wrong place

J: or buyin' 'em from the 1 place - right, well we didn't know no bettere - but, uh, that's where I, you know, messed those guys up & I landed in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary - I went from minimum security ta maximum - do not pass go, do not collect $200.00 - but, hey! Ya gotta do what ya gotta do & I ain't gonna let some big black guy screw me - so I blinded 2 of 'em - well, not permanently, but

M: What didja do? Throw boiling water in their faces?

J: By law, the dishwater has to be 180 degrees & I jest took a pitcher of it & threw it in their face - well that was the 2nd guy - the 1st guy was trapped on a corner &, by luck, there was a mop standin' there with a detachable mop ringer & I knocked 1 of his eyes out

M: So, there was never more than just 1 guy at a time, then?

J: Right. Or I probly wudda been in big trouble.

M: Yeah, so what was it like

J: I'd probably have a real high voice right now - haha -

M: Nah, you'd probably be the same as you are - not much different

J: Well, I wouldn't've liked it anyhow, but, uh - fortunately, I escaped that plus the fact that I was an ugly dude & that ya had to be really sick to want me anyhow & usually if you don't look for trouble, you won't find it & you stand up for yourself, people will help you - if you just roll over & play dead, nobody'll help you - but if you fight, a guy might beat you up & knock you out but nobody ain't gonna let him fuck you, right - soo, basically it's how you carry yourself, I ain't superman, but I was a man & they left me alone - although there's always somebody who's gonna try ya - always some dumb guy, you know, so sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do - I still have nightmares on stuff like that - yeah, I mean I'm not a really violent person - it's kinda funny, since I was a bank-robber - I'm not a real violent person

M: It's not a violent crime exactly

J: Well, huh, they think so - that's why, that's why I couldn't really go ta half the really great joints in the federal system because they won't take you if you got any kindof armed robbery or anything - "You're a violent person", ya know,

M: Of course, did you ever even pull your gun out when you were robbing?

J: No! I never actually waved a gun at nobody.

M: But you had the gun with you, so

J: Yeah - it was a psychological thing

M: - just in case.. - Right. So, you knew that if somebody said "Ah, well", or whatever - or didn't believe you or whatever you could pull it out

J: Right.

M: & go "Fuck You!"

J: - or, or, or if it got into a jam, I might wave it around ta get out of it but I don't think I would've actually ever uh pulled the trigger - I can't swear to it - but I don't think, I don't think it's in me to actually kill a person - or even shoot a person - that's why I was robbin' banks in the 1st place - so I wouldn't have to shoot nobody - like the judge said, I was the only non-violent bank-robber he ever met

M: So, uh, so what about in prison? Is there anything? So you were workin' in the kitchen the whole time?

J: No, um, in Atlanta, I actually, after a while I got tired with kitchen work 'cause it didn't pay enough & I got, they pay ya by piecework & I was workin' a double shift in the prison industries makin' furniture & mail sack grommets - the little things that close it with & stuff like that

M: Yeah. A friend of mine's girlfriend is in prison now for a long time doin' the same kinda work

zJ: Well, the 1 thing about havin' a job in prison is it gets you out of your cell - it's not so boring & the time goes fast

M: So, how much did you get paid to work in prison?

J: I was gettin' 45¢ an hour - That's in federal - see, coinci-, at the same time I had pulled a state sentence & they were very mad that federal had taken priority - so what they did was they sentenced me ta 5 years with 10 years probabtion from & after the 5 years - startin' the day I was outta federal prison & I'm still on that probabtion now until 1992

M: How long ya been outta prison now?

J: Since 1982. & I'm on probation with the State of Virginia until 1992.

M: You've been livin' in South Baltimore since 1982?

J: Yep. Since I got out - it was, uhhh, March 30th, 1982

M: See, I was living just a few blocks away from you when I was gettin' into all that trouble that I told you about

J: Ohh, I didn't even know you - it's a small neighborhood but you don't know everybody

M: I was in alotta trouble around the time that you were livin' around there

J: Yeah, but when I 1st came out I was like whipped - like a hung dog - I didn't, I was so afraid I was gonna get in trouble again that I did nuthin' - I sat in my room & vegetated

M: You mean at the rooming-house? Or?

J: No, at my father's house. The biggest favor my father ever did me was in 1986 he kicked me outta the house

M: So, what did he think about your robbing banks?

J: Well, he thought I was just 1 more disappointment in a long line of disappointments - not that he ever stopped luvvin' me, but he stopped respecting me -

M: So, how did your uh, your military background fit into all this do ya think?

J: I don't think it fit in at all. I think it, my military background should've prevented it but it didn't - I'm 1 of those people I guess I'm hard-headed, I have to learn the hard way

M: So, you didn't really start getting into

J: 'til I started fucking around with drugs.

M: 'Til you started fucking around with drugs.

J: & started doin' acid everyday & shit like that.

M: How did you - tell me a little more about getting in with this car theft gang - I mean, you were really fucked up on acid, you found yourself in your father's car at some

J: Oh yeah, well, fortunately my father didn't get his - didn't press charges on me although he could've & he should've - but

M: Did ya meet somebody who

J: Well, we came home & called 'em up & told 'em ta stop lookin' for us - I don't know how we got there - it was like a long time later - we started trippin' & it was just like - it's all a blur -

M: But, I mean, you said you, you assisted with about 200 car thefts after that, did you, were you?

J: Oh, well, uh,

M: You were just hangin' around a group of people

J: Like you said, not to mention names, people I grew up with in high school, people who were into all, various kinds of stuff, 1 of them turned me on to it - he'd just tell me "Oh, well, if you could get a certain type..", but back then, see, you can't, it was easy - all you needed was a dent puller

M: A what?

J: A dent puller, you could get 1 out of a body shop - well back then they had the ignition - 17 seconds - pop the door, jump in, pump the ignition out, the whole ignition system, turn the screwdriver, that was before they had the locking steering wheels & all that good stuff

M: Yeah, well even so, even with the locking steering wheels, it's pretty easy, isn't it?

J: Sure. State Police did it on TV - that's how I got the idea. Showed you how easy it was to steal a car.

M: Alright, so, I mean, these people you were involved with - I'm, see I'm interested in partially the political aspect of it - you mentioned before the SDS, the Weather Underground,

J: Right. They were into, uhh, things like walkin' through the draft board in Boston with 10 pound magnets in their pocket & erasing all the computer tapes. From there they progressed into some other stuff like bombing post offices & shit - that's when I got turned off 'em - the people weren't into that really radical stuff were the people I hung with - although they did turn me onto the Anarchist Cookbook

M: So, what were those people like? I mean, again, not to mention names or anything like that..

J: The ones who weren't the really violent types?

M: Well, actually, both types.

J: Well, most of 'em, for the most part, they were like politicu, politically radical - they were "stop the war at all costs" - although I, I kept askin' 'em, you know, "You're protestin' the war 'cause people are gettin' killed", right? & they'd go "yeah" & I'd say "But you're killin' people to protest killin. It doesn't make sense." - but, in their mind it did.

M: Did the Weather Underground, did the Weather Underground ever actually kill anybody?

J: That - to my knowledge? Yes. Yes.. {I have my doubts about the accuracy of this statement but I'm hardly an expert}

M: Not very many though in contrast to how many got killed in Vietnam.

J: True, but on the other hand, itsa like, it's like, we're killing to stop killing - which is, it feeds on itself

M: Well, I agree with you about that

J: Of course at the time I didn't understand it

M: I mean I agree with you about that but still I'm

J: They were uh, what what the people that I grew up with on army bases would call commie sympathisers 'n' all - I never saw 'em as that - I think they were naive & idealistic & thought they could actually change the world & then when they found out that they couldn't actually change the world except to a certain degree they got bitter & that's how they got violent

M: Did you agree with the ideal? Or?

J: At 1st, yes, but I didn't agree with - oh, oh, I, I always had agreed with the ideals but the methods I sometimes had questions about 'cause I'm not really a violent person - &, uh, I couldn't agree with killin' people to stop killin' even though it may work - who knows, if ya kill enough people there's nobody left to kill - but, mild forms of protest, sure - or even, even things that might be slightly illegal or totally illegal but are non-violent - like erasin' the computer tape 'n' all, sure - or, the Weather Underground gettin' people to Canada, sure

M: So, were people from the SDS & the Weather Undergound into stealing cars? & getting money & using it for political purposes?

J: They were into stealing cars, robbing banks, doing anything they could to raise money to do other stuff &, more or less, that's why I was workin' for 'em - They'd tell me what kinda make & model - then I'd uh uh uh uh get a small fee instead of the money I probly coulda got sellin' it directly to the people they were sellin' it to & they'd take their percentage & use it for their activities - so, I was, more or less, workin' for the Students for a Democratic Society - which I joined in high school - but, alotta my friends joined that splinter group, the Weather Underground &, when they started gettin' really out there it's jest like I said like you know you know you can't really go around killin' people to stop killin' you you're just as bad as them - you've sunk to their level - when you start killin' people you're just as bad as the murderers, right? You, you yell at the soldiers, you say they're baby-killers, well, hey!, your bomb in the post office, what if there's a little kid in there? - you're a baby-killer too, right, - &, we agreed to disagree, & I stopped associatin' with 'em or knowin' 'em - I didn't wanna know 'em anymore - I didn't wanna know what they were doin' 'cause

M: So, they were bombing post offices because the post offices were being used for draft offices, basically? Or?

J: Well, yeah, you did register at post offices back then, but I think mostly because they were a symbol of the guv'ment - anything that symbolized the guv'ment - they were really, they were basically anarchists - which I don't agree with because ya gotta have some form of, of of, anything, right?

M: Well, I'm an anarchist, so I have to

Oi Veh! This interview was originally recorded on a 90 minute tape & I've decided to stop here at the end of Side 1 so I'm only halfway thru it! I still find it interesting in many ways: I find John's apparent candidness educational & refreshing; BUT, I still don't completely trust everything he's saying: I wish I'd asked for more details about who the Weather Underground had supposedly killed. Was anyone actually killed in a bombing or did John just get the possibility of its happening confused with its actually happening? I don't know.. Either way, I suppose you, dear reader, will have to wait for "Street Ratbag" #5 to find out whether I continue with it or not, eh?

[I didn't continue the transcription any further. I retroactively deduce that there wasn't much significant content in the remainder of the interview.]



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