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The Last of the Hippies by Penny Rimbaud

The Last of the Hippies by Penny Rimbaud

An updated pocket book size version of this seminal anarcho-punk essay by Crass drummer and writer Penny.

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Jeremy John Ratter (born 8 June 1943, Northwood, Middlesex, England), better known under his pseudonym of Penny Rimbaud, is a drummer, writer, poet, former member of performance art groups EXIT and Ceres Confusion, and co-founder of the anarchist punk band Crass with Steve Ignorant in 1977.

 

Rimbaud (so named as a tribute to poet Arthur Rimbaud, the 'Penny' being a pun on the phrase "arfer (half a) penny", referring to the long discontinued British Ha'penny coin) attended the South East Essex Technical College and School of Art in the early 1960s, where he exhibited a talent for tailoring. In the same period he appeared on TV show Ready Steady Go! to receive a prize from John Lennon for winning a competition to produce a piece of artwork depicting The Beatles' song "I Wanna Hold Your Hand".

 

Inspired by the film Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Rimbaud set up the anarchist/pacifist Dial House community in 1967 with Gee Vaucher, and, together with his friend Phil Russell (aka Wally Hope), helped to instigate the free festival movement at Windsor and later Stonehenge during the early 1970s.

 

As documented in Rimbaud's essay Last of the Hippies and his autobiographyShibboleth, Russell was arrested and incarcerated in a mental institution after having been found in possession of a small amount of LSD. He was later released, but appeared to have been seriously mentally damaged by his experiences, especially the side effects of prescription drugs that he had been administered, and subsequently died. The official verdict is that Russell committed suicide, although Rimbaud claims that he uncovered strong evidence that he was murdered. Rimbaud has claimed that it was his anger over unanswered questions surrounding his friend's death that fueled and inspired him to form Crass.

 

Penny Rimbaud (on the composting toilet) and Gee Vaucher, 2002 Although Crass disbanded in 1984, Rimbaud continued to write and perform both as a solo artist and as a part of the Crass Collective alongside other ex members of the band such as Eve Libertine, Gee Vaucher and Steve Ignorant, as well as other artists and musicians.

 

His works include the originally self-published Reality Asylum, a vitriolic attack on Christianity which has appeared as a 2 minute track on Crass' 1978 debut album The Feeding of the 5000, as a longer single and as a 45 minute spoken word monologue.

 

He also wrote Rocky Eyed, an extended poem attacking then prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her government following the 1982 Falklands War which was recorded as the Crass album Yes Sir, I Will, The Death of Imagination (a 'musical drama in 4 parts'), The Diamond Signature (published by AK Press) and Oh America, a response to the events of September 11 2001 and America's subsequent War on Terror which includes the line Give us justice which is not the searing spite of revenge, peace which is not the product of war nor dependent upon it.

 

Since 2003 he has worked as part of Crass Agenda (latterly Last Amendment), performing live and releasing material in CD format including Savage Utopia, a collaboration with Coldcut's Matt Black and other jazz musicians, and How?, a reworking of Allen Ginsberg's beat poem Howl, recorded live at the Vortex Jazz Club.

 

During 2005 he has completed a philosophical work "This Crippled Flesh" which is expected to be a rumination on Politics, Punk and pigs, as well as appearing in Dominic Thackray's short fim Girlfriend in a Kimono.

 

He has written introductions to books including the controversial The Evil Empire: 101 Ways That England Ruined the World and Graham Burnett's 'Earth Writings' and is currently (as of 2007) working on a "Jazz Requiem" with saxophonist Ed Jones. He is also a regular columnist for the Stoke Newington based magazine "N16".

 

He also contributed several spoken word tracks to the 2008 Japanther album Tut Tut Now Shake Ya Butt.

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