The Yippies Plan to Levitate the Pentagon

The Yippies Plan to Levitate the Pentagon

The attempted levitation of the Pentagon was a famous protest/prank that brought together the politicized wing of the counterculture and the hippies who were more invested in cultural revolution. The levitation stunt was a joke, but one with serious undertones that helped publicize their antiwar protest, the first of its kind in Washington, DC. “If you don’t like the news, why not go out and make your own?” Abbie Hoffman wrote in Steal This Book. “Guerrilla theater events are always good news items and if done right, people will remember them forever.” Even Pentagon officials joined in on the levity when the organizers sought a permit to levitate the building. “Well, don’t raise it higher than twenty-two feet, because that’s the height of our ladders,” they were told by a bemused official, who finally bargained them down to three feet. “So then we were able to go out and tell the newspapers that the Pentagon said that we could ‘only’ raise it three feet off the ground,” Paul Krassner said. “It was a great quote. It was funny, and it served as an organizational tool of media manipulation—in order to inform people about the demonstrations that were going to take place that October at the Pentagon.” The proto-Yippies staged two different media events filled with humorous hooks that they dangled in front of journalists, who took the bait. One was held at Abbie and Anita Hoffman’s apartment across from The Dom, and the other press conference featured a demonstration of the levitation at the Village Theater, complete with wires used to raise a small model of the Pentagon. While Sanders and others chanted, it rose high above the stage like a cheap magic trick.

From Chapter 15 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Abbie and Anita's Apartment
10 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003