Ex-City Manager, On Stand, Claims 'Avatar' Is 'Filth'

Former Cambridge city manager Joseph A. DeGuglielmo '29--a witness for the defense--blasted Avatar in Middlesex Superior Court yesterday.

"I'do not consider Avatar a newspaper. It is a commodity, and that commodity is plain ordinary filth," he said.

Avatar's lawyers had subpoenaed DeGuglielmo to clarify motives behind the City's crackdown against Avatar. He testified in the trial of 32 Avatar salesmen, including seven Harvard students, charged with selling obscene literature.

As chief executive in Cambridge when Avatar arrests were made from November through February, DeGuglielmo testified that he ordered both the City license commission and police to crack down on Avatar.

"I told the chief of police that if we revoked their peddling licenses, it was my hope that it would be the first step in getting Avatar to leave Cambridge," DeGuglielmo said.

Defense attorney Harvey A. Silverglate asked DeGuglielmo how he had justified his decision to order revocation of licenses. DeGuglielmo replied that the "vast majority" of Cambridge's 99,000 residents found Avatar offensive.

"In my amateurish way, I conducted a poll of my own," DeGuglielmo said. He estimated that before ordering action, he had talked with about 700 Cambridge housewives, clergy, laborers, undertakers, merchants, educators, and policemen.

One Professor

Silverglate then asked him if he had discussed Avatar with any professors at Harvard. "Yes, one, who found it offensive," DeGuglielmo said. He declined to give the professor's name to anyone but court officials.

In response to a question about the names of policemen he had consulted, DeGuglielmo said, "I spoke to the chief. I don't speak to subordinates."

Concerning the City's alleged "war on hippies," DeGuglielmo said, "The Avatar periodical is what we objected to, not the kids. We have no objection to them so long as they conform to the norms of the community. In this case, you had a group of children--I call them children--who were handing the public something disgusting and seeming to enjoy it...the minority inflicting obscenity on the majority."