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NEWS

Yippie and Peace Activist Mayer


Vishner Is Dead,
Apparently a Suicide
AUGUST 28, 2013

BY MARY REINHOLZ

Mayer near his community garden parcel in the


Village.

Mayer Vishner, a longtime anti-war activist, editor,


and close associate of Abbie Hoffman and the
Yippies, died in his Greenwich Village apartment at
the age of 64 last week — an apparent suicide,
according to friends and colleagues.

Paul Krassner, 81, a founder of the Yippies and


editor of The Realist, said yesterday that he spoke
to Vishner around 2 a.m. Thursday, after he had
returned from Texas to leave his cat with a friend.
“I asked him about the Texas trip and he went into
some detail, then told me that he had taken 20
Seconals, and would take more in segments while
we talked, ultimately totaling 90 pills,” said
Krassner. “He got nauseated at one point and I
suggested that he smoke some pot, which he did,
and it helped.” Krassner said that around 3 a.m.,
“he decided that it was time for him to go to bed.
My last words to him were, ‘Peace out.’”

Grace Burgess, a spokesperson for the New York


Medical Examiner’s Office, said an autopsy had
been performed but that it was too early for a ruling
on the cause of death.

Vishner was described by colleagues as a lifelong


bachelor who was committed to the liberation
movements of the ’60s and ’70s, espousing sex,
drugs, rock and revolution. He was a former
managing editor of L.A. Weekly and edited a 1971
book, When the Mode of the Music Changes: An
Anthology of Rock n’ Roll Lyrics.

In the ’90s, he was an assistant manager at the St.


Mark’s Bookshop. “Mayer was a character,” said
the store’s co-owner, Bob Contant. “He was a New
York type that’s hard to describe — you have to
experience it. He could have an abrasive
personality and people could take him the wrong
way — a characteristic of New York that’s
disappeared because we’ve become so politically
correct and sanitized.”

Vishner grew up in the Bronx, where he attended


agricultural high school, according to Susan
Cakars, whose late husband Maris was Vishner’s
editor at Win, a magazine of the War Resisters
League. He tended to a community garden and
was active in that movement, according to
musician, writer, and Yippie co-founder Ed
Sanders, who recalled Vishner as a pacifist who
was “against all war.”

Other colleagues recalled him as a man who


struggled with depression, drug abuse
and alcoholism.”Mayer was a stalwart of the War
Resisters League and the New York
hippies/Yippies and pacifists,” said David
McReynolds, the retired field secretary of WRL in a
statement from his East Village apartment. “He
was also a troubled soul who lived a deeply
depressed life and depended on vodka to keep the
demons at bay.”

Bedford+Bowery learned of the passing via


Facebook, when Dylan garbologist AJ Weberman
posted a photo of Vishner with Hoffman and fellow
yippie Tom Forcade, the founder of High
Times (both of whom also committed suicide). In a
message to B+B, Weberman claimed that Vishner
planned his death “long in advance and informed
senior counterculture people of his intentions.” He
added that he had spoken to Johanna Lawrenson,
Abbie Hoffman’s widow, and she had told him that
Vishner had attempted suicide before.

Aron Kay, the “Yippie pieman,” saw Vishner at


anti-war protests, at the anniversary of Abbie
Hoffman’s death in 1998, and at the Democratic
Convention in 1996, where they called for human
rights and the legalization of marijuana. He
described his comrade as a trooper. “He never
went into any cult,” said Kay. “He never dropped
his values.”
Dig this. All three of these dudes committed suicide. This picture was taken
in my loft at 6 Bleecker Street.