On November 1, 1971, this anarchist youth subculture surfaced with the first issue of the student underground paper Red Tide at University High School. Issues included content such as critiques of the school’srelationship to the military and police, student organizing strategies, self-defense techniques for women, diagrams of sexual organs, contraception information, and a gay rights forum. Because of the paper’s criticism of the school and its liberal attitude toward sex and drug use, the administration suspended four student staff members. In response to a second round of suspensions, on March 14, 1972, over six hundred students occupied the school’s administration building, demanding that the school revoke the suspensions and allow Red Tide to be distributed on campus. These struggles continued throughout the early 1970s, and in 1974, parents of Red Tide staffer Susie Bright supported a legal challenge to the school’s suppression of an unofficial student paper. By that time, Red Tide was being distributed throughout the city. In December 1976, the California Supreme Court decided in favor of Red Tide.3 Nonetheless, by the late 1970s, Red Tide was divorced from its high school affiliation, 2 Spitz and Mullen, We’ve Got the Neutron Bomb. 3 Bright v. Los Angeles Unified Sch. Dist. , 18 Cal.3d 450, 1976. 399 and its staff packed up and moved to Detroit in order to participate in new political campaigns.4
From the members of the Star and Crescent Society at the start of the 20th century to the staff of Red Tide in the 1970s, intimately bonded groups of young Angelinos, identified by subcultural practices, built an autonomous youth culture in Los Angeles. Rather than being solely subjects of social control projects and marketing devices, young people organized into subcultural groups have constantly challenged and expanded the cultural and social life of their city. Young Angelinos united around a range of pursuits, including civic participation, labor solidarity, automotive customization, rock ‘n’ roll, and dancing. However, this is not simply an L.A. story: during the 20th century, groups of young Americans in metropolitan centers across the nation acted as a fifth estate, playing critical roles in progressive political and cultural change.