The Pigasus was used by John Steinbeck as a personal stamp with the Latin motto Ad astra per alia porci (to the stars on the wings of a pig). The pigasus was supposed to symbolize Steinbeck as "earthbound but aspiring.... A lumbering soul but trying to fly...(with)...not enough wingspread but plenty of intention."
Coincidentally, Pigasus was a character in the Oz books written by Ruth Plumly Thompson in the 1930s. Her Pigasus was also a winged pig. As with Pegasus, his riders gained the gift of poesy, speaking in rhyme while on his back. The character first appeared in Pirates in Oz.
~ From: Wikipedia ~
Pigasus was a pig and was a satiric candidate for President of the United States for the Youth International Party (Yippies). The pig's name was a play on Pegasus, the winged horse in Greek mythology. Led by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, Pigasus's candidacy was announced during the massive protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. After this episode, Pigasus was a member of the Hog Farm group, and moved with them. The candidate was also featured in a later New York City parade that started at the Gansevoort Street garbage pier on the Hudson River and proceeded to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village.
The Pigasus campaign is mentioned in the Illuminatus! trilogy, early on in the first book.
~ From: Wikipedia ~
In 1968, in the fading years of one of the most un-American chapters in our entire history, the "House Un-American Activities Committee" ("HUAAC" or "HUAC") still existed. This committee was set up to root out (as you can tell from the title) "un-American" activities ... which started out as "communism" but soon morphed into "anything the right wing didn't approve of." It was in this later incarnation that, in 1968, it was holding hearings on those unruly and upstart youngsters, the hippies.
These were not patchouli-reeking slackers (OK, well, maybe some of them were), these were the youth of America who were organized, seriously annoyed with the direction of a very unpopular war, and wanted to influence the political debate of the day. They formed their own "political party" in Chicago (at the Democratic National Convention), which they called the Youth International Party -- or, the "Yippies." At the forefront of this movement was the radical leader Abbie Hoffman. And in 1968, he was called before HUAAC to testify on his activities. His testimony followed fellow Yippie Jerry Ruben, who had appeared in front of the committee dressed in (as Hoffman later described it): "Beret by IRA. Black pajama bottoms by Viet Cong. Bandoleers borrowed from the mountains of Mexico were crisscrossed across the bare sexy chest of a yippie warrior -- his body slashed with lavish swatches of red paint."
Needless to say, political theater was very big, back in the day. Why don't we have committee hearings this entertaining today, one wonders ...
But the question remained, how could Abbie possibly top this opening act? Again, in his own first-person account (from his book, Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture):
"In exactly two hours I'd do more for the flag than anyone since Betsy Ross. As our star-spangled retinue approached the hallowed halls of Congress, a detachment of police summoned to the scene quickly encircled us. 'You are under arrest for the desecration of the flag. Come with us.' ... Instantly the steps became a swarm of cameramen, cops, and screaming yippies. ... I fought for life and shirt, swinging wildly. Rrrrrrrrrip! 'You pigs, you ripped my fuckin' shirt,' I screamed ... The next day I stood before the judge, bare to the waist. The tattered shirt lay on the prosecutor's table in a box marked Exhibit A. 'You owe me fourteen ninety-five for that shirt,' I mentioned. Bail was set at three thousand dollars. 'Get out of here with that Viet Cong flag. How dare you?' the judge intoned. 'Cuban, your honor,' I corrected [Hoffman had painted a Cuban flag on his body]. A few months later this same judge started letting his hair grow long, called for the legalization of marijuana, and began speaking out against the war."
When the trial was held, under a brand-new section of U.S. law (Abbie claims he was the first person tried under the statute, which carried a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine), the judge, whom Abbie reports "deemed it his duty to find me guilty," allowed him to make a statement. Big mistake, for anyone who knows Abbie Hoffman. Hoffman's response was: "Your honor, I regret that I have but one shirt to give for my country."
The case, of course, was later overturned on appeal (since it was blatantly unconstitutional to begin with), and Abbie never had to serve the month-long sentence handed down. Abbie reports further: "By the time we had [won the appeal], over three dozen people had already been arrested for similar offenses. A vest in Virginia. A bedspread in Iowa. All with the familiar flag motif. In arguing for the government in defense of the law, Nixon's prosecutor stated, 'The importance of a flag in developing a sense of loyalty to a national entity has been the subject of numerous essays.' The first essay the U.S. government quoted was a lengthy passage from Mein Kampf, by history's most famous housepainter, Adolf Hitler."
Hoffman went on to wear a similar shirt on the Merv Griffin Show, which was the first example in television history of a show being broadcast with the video edited out. This proto-pixilation showed the entire screen as a deep blue, rather than subject America to an image of Abbie Hoffman with a flag motif shirt on.
Note that: flag motif. Abbie never cut up a flag to make a shirt, he bought these patriotic items from people who manufactured them. As Abbie relates his appearance with Merv (emphasis in original):
"I told him how I had just been given a thirty-day jail sentence, not for wearing the star-spangled shirt, but for the thoughts in my head; how Ricky Nelson, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Raquel Welch, and Phyllis Diller had all worn similar flag garb on television and in movies; how anyone could go to the fashionable boutique a few blocks from the studio where I had bought the shirt and get one just like it."
Get that -- it's not just wearing the flag that will get you into trouble, but your political beliefs while you wear that flag. Starting to sound a little bit familiar?
Abbie's appearance was aired the next night, but with the following disclaimer read by the vice-president of CBS before the broadcast (and before it was visually turned into a completely blue screen) [editorial note in brackets in original, by Hoffman, speaking in first-person]:
"An incident occurred during the taping of the following program that had presented CBS network officials with a dilemma involving not only poor taste and the risk of offending the viewers but also certain very serious legal problems. It seemed one of the guests had seen fit to come on the show wearing a shirt made from an American flag [not true; it was a shirt with a flag motif]. Therefore, to avoid possible litigation the network executives have decided to 'mask out'' all visible portions of the offending shirt by electronic means. We hope our viewers will understand."
Pioneering television. Elvis' pelvis was just kept off-screen, but the birth of what would develop later into pixilation had its origins not in hiding inadvertent nipples (a la Janet Jackson), or someone flipping the bird to the cameraman, but to hide a man wearing a shirt with a United States flag motif.
Abbie, however, got the last laugh, as he was so often wont to do:
"In all, 88,000 people were angry enough that night to call and protest the censoring. In the following days stores all over the country sold out their stock of shirts bearing the flag motif, demonstrations were held at CBS offices in three cities, and Merv Griffin publicly apologized, saying he had not been told of the censoring in advance."
The Yippies went on to nominate, during the tumult surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention, a pig named Pigasus to run for President of the United States. Like I said, it was the era of great political theater.