Jubilation and Aging Hippies in Times Square

As it became clear that Obama was going to win the Presidential race, I grabbed my camera and headed to Times Square to photograph the celebrating crowds. To my delighted surprise I ran into an old friend – an aging left wing activist and hippie named Aron Kay who was infamously known as Pie Man.

Aron is a holdout from the radicals of the 1960’s. As everyone from that era joined the establishment, died or just faded away, he continued going strong preaching social justice. I enjoy picking his brain and hearing his stories because he knew everyone on the scene back then. He still talks the talk and walks the walk – even if it’s with a cane.

Photographed by Jeff Levine in Times SquareBack in the day Aron hung with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, and was an uncredited co-author of Abbie’s Steal This Book. He was friends with founders of High Times Magazine and the Village Voice, and hobnobbed with bands like the Jefferson Starship. He campaigned for Eldridge Cleaver, the Black Panther who ran for President in 1968.

The son of Holocaust survivors, he can converse in Yiddish and admits to being a rebel most of his life. His philosophy was influenced by the counter-culture of the Viet Nam era and sound of the Beatles.

Aron’s real claim to fame was becoming the notorious Pie Man, who threw pies at politicians like G. Gordon Liddy, Senator Pat Moynihan, and former mayor of New York City Abe Beame. He glows with pride when he talks about his FBI file.

Since the 1960’s Aron’s life hit some bumps. As the East Village gentrified he spent some time homeless and moved to Brooklyn. But in Times Square when President Obama took the race he was there cheering. I photographed the jubilant young crowd and wondered if anyone knew that the seeds of society’s change were planted by people like Aron.

In the early morning hours of November 7, 2012 President Obama said the following words as he acknowledged his victory:

“What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.”

Aron wandered with some difficulty among the crowd as people of all colors, religions, and sexual persuasions cheered and waved. Nobody recognized Aron, but I knew who he was and felt proud to be his friend.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Related posts:

The Woodstock Generation Comes of Age
Aging Rock ‘n Rollers Take Manhattan’s West Side
Folk Legend Pete Seeger Joins Occupy Wall Street March

Learn more about Pie Man by clicking here.

 

.

Comments(4)

  • Anonymous
    November 9, 2012, 12:05 pm  Reply

    That was a great story about Pie Man. Didn’t make the connection until you explained how he got his name. Also learned that he co-authored Abbie’s “Steal This Book”. I DID steal that book. Actually stole it from Abbie himself during a protest he had in front of Doubleday Book store on 5th Ave in 1970 when they wouldn’t allow him to sell it in their store. He had about 300 police watching him as he opened boxes of books with Steal this Book in it in front of the store and I immediately swooped down and stole one from him. Abbie began yelling at the police screaming “Officer arrest that man, he stole my book, he stole my book!!!” The police just glared back at him as he was basically mocking them with the tone of his voice. Oddly enough I bumped into a friend of mine from college who was a mailman for the summer at that moment and I immediately threw the book in his mail bag and that essentially protected me and him from any crime since tampering with the mail is a federal offense. I wandered back to see Abbie selling lots of books to little silver haired ladies who were visiting from Alabama on a bus tour of NY. He was laughing his ass off because he was making lots of money doing this much to the chagrin of the police. The media were all over this event and I managed to steal one more book from him and got him to sign it (still have it, Jeff!). I should get Pie Man to co- sign it now! Hope you enjoyed that story!

  • rroush@bcm.edu
    November 9, 2012, 12:03 pm  Reply

    Wish I’d been there to witness the justified celebratory mood. Tell Aron he has an admirer in Texas. BTW, Houston, the 4th largest city in America; Austin, the most liberal city in Texas whose official motto is “Keep Austin Weird”; and Dallas, another top 10 city in the U.S. all voted for the President Obama. I’m
    proud of that.

    Keep the faith. Bob

  • November 8, 2012, 12:36 pm  Reply

    Jeff- great pics and a great story that deserves to be told; I guess that’s a disappearing generation, even in New York.

  • Cliff Feiner
    November 8, 2012, 12:16 pm  Reply

    He really needed to aim pretty low to hit Abe Beame with a pie. Beame was the only mayor who makes Bloomberg appear as if he was six feet tall.

Leave a Comment

Dr. Jeffrey M. Levine has authored numerous articles on topics related to healthcare of the elderly. These include medical history, prevention and treatment of chronic wounds such as pressure ulcers, elder neglect and abuse, and physical restraints. He has also edited a book on legal and regulatory aspects of nursing homes.