The Joe Taco Syndrome, by Adam Auster
NOTE: This editorial is from People Soup Volume 1, Issue 1 of Nov/Dec 1973.
The army has its G. I. Joe. The public has John Doe. And LRY has its two figures...Joe Taco and Suzy Creamcheese.
The geneaology of Joe and Suze is sort of fuzzy. Suzy Creamcheese was and is originally the creation of Frank Zappa on his album "Freakout". When Greg Sweiggart became President of LRY, he published regular "letters from Suzy Creamcheese", describing the trials and tribulations of an imaginary local LRYer.
Joe Taco first came to light -- no one knows where from -- in 1970, when LRY first acquired an apartment for the continental executive committee in Cambridge, MA. Because the people on the exec com change every year, the apartment was rented in Joe's name. To this day, the LRY telephone number may be obtained by calling up Cambridge information and asking for the number of "Joseph Taco".
It is important for us to make a distinction, however, between Joe Taco and "Johny Scout" or any other organizational archetypes. Unlike the Army, school or the Scouts, LRY is not striving to train its members towards a single definite end. As Larry Ladd, a former president of LRY, put it in 1968, "Since these organizations have as their purpose the molding of us to fit their own images (for example, G. I. Joe, Johny Scout), their leaders pass down 'the right way' and their structures exist so that we can 'rehearse' the roles and their structures exist so that we can 'rehearse' the roles and organizational methods that they hope to train us to believe in. The Scouts, in other words, exist to indoctrinate us into someone else's trip."
Society as a whole works much the same way only worse; instead of there being just one role to follow, we are confronted with thousands, some of which contradict each other, but all of which are supposed to be valid. A suburban housewife, for example, must be a perfect mother/theacher, a cook, a brilliant conversationalist (but not more so than the husband), a hostess, a sex symbol...the list is endless. Yet there is one person who not only succeeds in being all of these things but enjoys it too! - the G. I. Joe of the housewife world who can be found in the pages of any housewife magazine, on the television, in the movies and in books.
The problem is not so far removed from our own lives, either. Our "youth culture" has its ideal boy and girl whose image can be found not only in movies and books but in our own midst. We sometimes become so concerned with pursuing the G. I. Joe of our society that he becomes more and more tangible to us as we approach the total imitation of him. Of course we never succeed in becoming Joe or Jane Hip but our friends do and we are aure that we can achieve the state of perfect typicalness if we only try a little harder. Even if we don't get there, we can still fool other people - and even ourselves - into beliving that we have...
LRY, however, is neither the Army, the Scouts nor the public schools. The very thing which divides the New Community from the old is precisely this difference in self determination. LRY for the individual is nobody's trip but your own, and although LRY should be an experience of change and growth, no one, least of all poor innocuous Joe Taco, is pointing to the "right" way to be.
When we go to conferences or local group meetings and we find ourselves splitting hairs over the question, "What is an LRYer", it might be a good idea to cast our thoughts over to Suzy and Joe. LRYers, after all, come in all shapes and sizes, valuing diversity as much as common unity. The only exceptions to this are the two "average" LRYers - Joe Taco and Suzy Creamcheese - who only hold this dubious honor by virtue of the fact that they, unlike the rest of us, do not really exist.