Remembering Patti Astor

Patti Astor was a year ahead of me, but we were always on a similar trajectory, although we did not converge until I wrote the first profile on her, a cover story for the East Village Eye.

She was involved with SDS but left when the organization was hijacked by the CIA-sponsored Weather Underground. She appears in  my groundbreaking film on Youtube, Origins of High Times Magazine.

The pandemic put a  huge load on our generation and got us super isolated. But I kept in touch with Patti, and plotted our “last stand” to reclaim the original scene that birthed a culture that shot around the world. The merger of punk and hip hop first exploded at the Fun Gallery. Patti was involved with the first Punk Art show held in Washington DC. She starred in the first hip hop movie, Wild Style.

Abbie Hoffman addresses the students at Columbia University during an anti-war protest.

If Jean Michel was leading the charge, Patti was riding right alongside. There are so many important contributors to the scene that were never recognized. Patti and I had a vision to create a sanctuary where our scene could gather for a few weeks during the summer. I contacted Deb Parker and told her I was looking for a private lake in a forest in the lower Catskills for a campground festival site. The first event was going to be held on the summer solstice right after the Tribeca Film Festival. Patti urged me to book Tom Tom Club and Sha-rock as headliners.

Patti was super excited about the film she was working on and loved her film crew. I got inspired and said, “I’ll enter my film on High Times, maybe we’ll both get in! And if not, let’s rent a theater and hold our own double feature!!”

Bill Stelling and Patti.

The last time I spoke to Patti it was to let her know she had a cameo in my film. I also said I’d decided to make Camp Fun a private event and not publicize nor promote it.

It would be entirely free but open only to our friends. I realized I didn’t want the stress of producing a money-making (or losing) festival. I did that all through the 1990-2000s and well know the energy it involves.

Birth of the new cool: Rene Ricard, Patti, Eric Mitchell.

Plus, I don’t follow contemporary culture and remain stuck in the 1960s to 1980s, mostly.

The plan was to hire Futura 2000 as crew chief on the art crew brought in and paid to fill the site with art, altars, memorials, tents, signs, and sculptures. We wanted his old downtown celebrity softball team to play my Bonghitters in a softball “field of dreams” dedicated to Stephen Crichlow. This became my central obsession for Camp Fun, figuring out what the opening ceremonies should look like.

Futura at his second opening.

The people I seek to hang out with are the same ones I hung out when we were laying down edges and guardrails on a cultural revolution that shot around the world because we are a special breed, and Patti is our Queen.

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