Early this week I ran across my copy of J. Anthony Lukas’s Don’t Shoot — We Are Your Children! (1975), one of the first books I read after I moved back East. True crime stories were really booming in those years and the sad fate of Linda and Groovy jumped into my brain, hard. I was still struggling with my own dreams and connections to underground cultures. I was only about six years younger than Groovy but existence moved very fast in those days and I felt much more a creation of both the counterculture and punk.
The extreme drama of the early hippie society seemed prehistoric by then. But it was implanted in living memory. Either the last time or the next-to-last time I saw my late friend Bruce Lee, whom I’ve mentioned before, we visited a street festival in Missoula and saw a batch of young-uns, maybe 30 years behind us, grooving to their beatbox with most of their clothes off. “Look at those little hippies trying to get it on,” said Bruce. “The new ones try hard, but the thing is — they don’t have the all-out attitude we did.” With a start, I realized he was right. And re-reading Lukas underscores that in a way it couldn’t my first time through. He notes that Groovy was a “natural” drop-out, who would have gravitated to the fringes of society no matter when he was born. But Linda Fitzpatrick experienced the all-out attitude first-hand. The hippie movement then was so dumbfounding to squares, so off the charts, that once you migrated to the other side you were in the open field, the far horizon ahead, right in the wildest frontier. Like Linda, you showed commitment by being more and more promiscuous, stonier and stonier.
Unlikely maybe, but Linda and Groovy have endured through the decades — there’s the Thurston Moore song about them, they are rumored to have inspired a story line in “Mad Men”, and they make an indisputable curtain-raiser on the whole broke-dirty-chaos era of New York City. (No less an authority than Peter Stampfel argues that.) Lukas properly focused on the lives of the two victims, not the crime that finished them. But for all those years, I did wonder — exactly how did this pair wind up bashed faceless in an abandoned boiler room?
A recent retelling of the incident solved it for me. The line I’d heard over time was that it was a krazy acid party that “got out of hand.” But that didn’t seem entirely satisfactory. This new article mentions what Lukas understandably omitted: Linda had been raped. Possibly zonked and certainly erratic and impulsive, she must have threatened to sic her Big Daddy on the thugs. When they became sure she was indeed not a powerless lost soul, they had to kill both her and the witness. A perhaps simpler and more mundane explanation is that Groovy tried to defend her, they whomped him, and then had to finish the job. But he was a tiny, scrawny dude — possibly zonked and easily restrained. I presume the thugs’ assumption (which proved as senseless as the whole affair) was that cops would ignore an everyday street chickie who hollered rape. But the fallen socialite daughter of a zillionaire? Dangerous. Linda Fitzpatrick did die because she belonged to two worlds.