Avatar No. 2
The Case of the Non-License
July 23, 1967, p.14

The Cambridge licensing board gave us the run-around. The chairman decreed that he and the chief of police would have to see a copy of the first issue before he would approve a license for the Avatar to be sold on the streets.

They approved, and the Avatar was allowed to purchase a license for ten dollars. But the license turned out to be a permit to sell meat, butter, cheese, fresh fruit, and vegetables. On the back of the permit appears a portion of the laws of the City of Cambridge. Chapter 101, section 17 reads "Hawkers and peddlers may sell without a license newspapers, religious publications, ice, flowering plants, and such flowers, fruits, nuts and berries as are wild and uncultivated..." We had been taken; but we chanted a few rounds of the Sutra for the Gullible and set out to peddle our papers.

As soon as I began to sell papers in front of the Harvard Coop, an officer demanded to see my license. I turned him on to the nuts and berries proviso, and he left bewildered. He warned, however, that there would be trouble because "You can't do anything without a number."

Later that night the officer was able to chortle at the realization of his prophesy. "I told you there would be trouble," he said, "See."

The trouble happened in front of the Brattle Theatre. The Officer there, who smelled of alcohol, was upset when an Avatar patron put on a demonstration of joy at receiving his copy of the first issue. The officer responded to the joy by arresting the patron for loitering.

He turned to myself and another Avatar peddler who had joined me and warned that he was going to arrest us for peddling without a license. He refused to read the nuts and berries proviso. He seized the paper I had copied it on as evidence. "Don't you jazz me," he warned. He put in a call to headquarters. Several officers, sergeants, and detectives showed up to help him make the perilous arrest.

Meanwhile we had called for the business manager to.come with his non-license. He arrived at the same time as the contingent from headquarters. The detectives, after refusing to allow him to copy their identification, informed him they were informing him of his rights. They examined his license carefully. They had us. We were licensed to sell meat, not newspapers. Then they read section 17. They were utterly lost. They retired in confusion, but they took with them one more sacrifice. They arrested for loitering another patron. When told to keep moving he had begun to jump up and down.