network news: where's wally? 1 2 3 4
Wally was thus a name anyone could use. Multiple names are a playful and idealistic attempt to create havoc with officialdom, both within and beyond the margins of `art'. The multiple-use name Emmett Grogan (3) was used by San Francisco diggers in the 1960s. The book Ringolevio is a biography of several members of the diggers merged together as the autobiography of one `person', Emmett Grogan. The name Karen Eliot refers to no one and is potentially everyone. In the 1990s, the multi-use name Luther Blissett was invented and spread by artists, writers, musicians, footballers and avant-bardists. The multi-using of the Wally name was abandoned by 1975 when, on the other side of the galaxy, the Mail-Artists Stefan Kukowski and Andrew Czaranowski , initiated a project "...to change everyone's name to Klaus Oldenberg".
I heard no more about the Wally story until 1982 when the political punk Crass brought out Christ the Album. This was their best-selling LP, it spent weeks at number 26 in the UK album chart. This was a concept album based on the story of Wally Hope.
The record, like their others, came out with page upon page of sleeve notes and posters. It contained a booklet written by Penny Rimbaud that did much to establish the personality cult around Wally Hope, as well as create a conspiracy theory around the circumstances of his death. In the booklet, Rimbaud compares Russell with Sid Vicious and Charles Manson. Rimbaud's story was that while working towards a second Stonehenge festival, Russell was arrested for possession of a small quantity of LSD for which he was placed on remand, where he refused to wear a prison uniform. He chose to defend his LSD use on religious grounds and was `sectioned' to a mental institution. There he was pumped full of huge doses of anti-psychotic drugs which reduced him to a state of idiocy. Upon his release he suffered from an incurabable condition of chronic dyskinesia as a result of his treatment, and so killed himself with an overdose of sleeping tablets. Rimbaud investigated the case further, uncovered a number of cover-ups, and received death threats as a result. Rimbaud's is an odd and very muddled story, in which many details do not concur with other known facts about the case.
But the next time the name Wally moved into media focus was in 1983 when the book How to Be a Wally was published. By now, the meaning of the word `Wally' had 'changed in popular usage and now meant `a stupid person'.