It’s a safe bet that few Dallasites made any connection between their city and the April 12 death of activist Abbie Hoffman in New Hope, Pennsylvania. But Jeff Swaney, a Deep Ellum developer and co-owner of Club Clearview and the Art Bar, was struck by a coincidence; he had interviewed Hoffman, in town for a lecture at Clearview, just a year to the day before the Sixties firebrand took his own life.
Hoffman hated conservative Dallas, Swaney says, and believed that the city was reaping its just rewards in economic pain. But he was virtually broke and needed to work the left-wing lecture circuit. “I haven’t taken a vow of poverty,” Hoffman quipped. “That’s Mother Teresa. [Judge Robert] Bork gets $15,000 for a one-hour speech with no questions.” Asked about critics who charged him with “selling out,” Hoffman bristled. “I’ve got four arrests this year. If this is selling out-wow! I can hardly wait till the money comes.”
The crowd at Clearview that night was amused, Swaney says. Hoffman made about a thousand dollars for an hour of his largely unrehearsed standup routine, blending political satire and gags. “He didn’t run out of causes, but he ran out of audience and never established life outside rebeldom,” says Swaney. “Maybe he gave too much.”
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