Great Speckled Bird
The Great Speckled Bird was a weekly counterculture Atlanta newspaper that was published from 1968 to 1976. It was also briefly revived in the mid 80’s for less than a year.
The life of the Bird was tied to the hippy movement, especially around “the Strip”, an area from 10th to 14th street along Peachtree road where the hippy scene was strongest. Most of the papers were sold by hippies on the street.
The main focus of the paper was opposition to the Vietnam War, but they also spent a lot of time attacking politicians, slumlords and big business.
Right from the beginning the paper was a thorn in the side of traditional Georgians. As Bob Goodman told us, “They weren’t used to our uncensored prose, they weren’t used to nude photos, they weren’t used to our radical politics, they weren’t used to scatological cartoons and all of these things appeared regularly in the bird. So as you might imagine a lot of people were deeply offended.”
In May of 1972 the paper’s office was firebombed. No-one was ever prosecuted. “We had a fair number of enemies,” Steve Wise told us with a laugh. “It could have been anyone.”
The paper finally shut its doors in 1976. The end of the Vietnam War and the dwindling street scene in Midtown severely affected sales. At one time the paper was circulating 22,000 copies a week. By 1976 they were down to a few thousand.
For former “Birders” though, memories of working on the paper are still strong. “We were the voice of all those progressive issues for this city,” said Stephanie Coffin. “If those struggles did not have a voice I think we would be a very different city today.”