Jerry Rubin - Do It! 1970

Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman gained fame by seeking to combine or join the counterculture with the New Left. To this end, they founded, with the help of Paul Krassner, the Yippies or the Youth International Party in Greenwich Village on New Year’s Eve, 1967. Raised during the age of television, both were masters at using the mass media to promote themselves and their views. After bringing the New York Stock Exchange to a temporary halt by throwing dollar bills from the gallery onto the floor of the exchange, they focused their energy on disrupting the Democratic Party’s convention in Chicago in August 1968.

This selecton from Do It!, includes Rubin’s commentary on long hair, one of the symbols of rebellion; the Democratic convention in Chicago; and America in general. In the 1980s Rubin turned his back on radical politics, focusing instead on creating “networking” opportunities for young urban professionals, or yuppies. This led many to conclude that Rubin, like many other activists, had always been more interested in personal self-gratification and aggrandizement than radical politics. Whether this was actually the case remains a matter of debate.

Jerry Rubin, Do It! Scenarios of the Revolution ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970), pp. 12-13, 92-95, 168-169, 172-173.

LONG HAIR, AUNT SADIE, IS A COMMUNIST PLOT

My earliest introduction to Communism involved family intrigue and outasight chicken soup. Every family has a black sheep. Mine was Aunt Sadie in New York.

“She went to Russia to meet Stalin,” members of the family used to gossip to each other.

When I was a kid, my family often visited Aunt Sadie, and she served the best chicken soup in the whole world. She used to say to me, “Jerry, you must still be hungry. Please eat some more, Jerry darling. Eat some more good chicken soup.”

And as she ladled more chicken soup into my already overflowing bowl, she’d whisper into my ear, “The capitalists need unemployment to keep wages down.”

I lost contact with Aunt Sadie and meanwhile became a family misfit myself. Then one unexpected afternoon Aunt Sadie knocked on the door of my Lower East Side apartment. I hadn’t seen her in ten years.

“Aunt Sadie,” I shouted, hugging her. “I’m a commie, too!”

She didn’t even smile.

Maybe she was no longer a Communist?

“Aunt Sadie, what’s the matter?”

She hesitated. “Jerry, why don’t you cut your hair?”

So I gave her a big bowl of Nancy’s outasight chicken soup and began:

“Aunt Sadie, long hair is a commie plot! Long hair gets people uptight -more uptight than ideology, cause long hair is communication. We are a new minority group, a nationwide community of longhairs, a new identity, new loyalties. We longhairs recognize each other as brothers in the street.

“Young kids identify short hair with authority, discipline, unhappiness, boredom, rigidity, hatred of life—and long hair with letting go, letting your hair down, being free, being open.

“Our strategy is to steal the children of the bourgeoisie right away from the parents. Dig it! Yesterday I was walking down the street. A car passed by, parents in the front seat and a young kid, about eight, in the back seat. The kid flashed me the clenched fist sign.”

“But, Jerry. . .” Aunt Sadie stammered.

“Aunt Sadie, long hair is our black skin. Long hair turns white middle-class youth into niggers. Amerika is a different country when you have long hair.

We’re outcasts. We, the children of the white middle class, feel like Indians, blacks, Vietnamese, the outsiders in Amerikan history. . . .

“Long hair polarizes every scene, Aunt Sadie. It’s instant confrontation. Everyone is forced to become an actor, and that’s revolutionary in a society of passive consumers.

“Having long hair is like saying hello to everybody you see. A few people automatically say ‘Hi’ right back; most people get furious that you disturbed their environment.”

“Jerry, you have so much to offer. If only you’d cut your hair. People laugh at you. They don’t take you seriously.”

“Listen, Aunt Sadie, long hair is what makes them take us seriously! Wherever we go, our hair tells people where we stand on Vietnam, Wallace, campus disruption, dope. We’re living TV commercials for the revolution. We’re walking picket signs.

“Every response to longhairs creates a moral crisis for straights. We force adults to bring all their repressions to the surface, to expose their real feelings.”. . .

THE BATTLE OF CZECHAGO

Every Amerikan’s first glimpse at the dawning of the 1968 Democratic National Convention:

Two hundred freeks running around the park. Funny-looking, longhaired, crazy yippie boys and girls, practicing Japanese snake-dancing and streetfighting with poles, learning how to defend themselves by kicking a cop in the balls with a well-placed karate blow while shouting:

“WASHOI!”

Czechago police are permanently stationed outside each water main in the city to prevent the yippies from dropping LSD in the water supply. The Democratic Convention is behind barbed wire.

And we are just warming up.

Sunday we looked around Lincoln Park and counted noses—maybe 2,000 to 3,000 freeks—and we organizers looked at each other sadly. We once dreamed 500,000 people would come to Czechago. We expected 50,000. But Daley huffed and puffed, and scared the people away. . . .

But although we were few, we were hard core: after the movement/Daley fear campaign, who but a bad, fearless, strungout, crazy motherfucker would come to Czechago?

And we were motherfucking bad. We were dirty, smelly, grimy, foul, loud, dope-crazed, hell-bent and leather-jacketed. We were a public display of filth and shabbiness, living in-the-flesh rejects of middle-class standards.

We pissed and s*** and f***** in public; we crossed streets on red rights; and we opened Coke bottles with our teeth. We were constantly stoned or tripping on every drug known to man.

We were the outlaw forces of Amerika displaying ourselves flagrantly on a world stage.

Dig it! The future of humanity was in our hands!

Yippie!. . .

The pigs invaded the sanctity of Lincoln Park on Tuesday morning to arrest Tom Hayden and Wolf Lowenthal. We rushed to picket the jail and ended up in an assault on General Logan’s statue in Grant Park. We hoisted the Viet Kong flag high upon the statue.

“It’s better than Iwo Jima,” someone shouted.

Hundreds of pigs rushed up to recapture the hill.

On Tuesday yippie guerrilla strategy scored its greatest victory. Tear gas aimed at yippies floated into the ventilation system of the Hilton Hotel.

The Hump was in bed when he smelled something funny.

It was tear gas! He had to stand under the shower 45 minutes to get all the stinky, stingy tear gas off.

The headlines blared:

HUMPHREY IS TEAR-GASSED.

Our guerrilla strategy was working: if they tear-gas us, they tear-gas themselves too.

Wednesday’s rally of sleepy “the war is immoral, illegal” speeches was halted when the pigs saw the Amerikan flag being lowered. The lowering of the red-white-and-blue, while not illegal, is a symbolic attack on the masculinity of every Czechago pig, so they attacked us with gas and clubs and were met with an avalanche of rocks, bags of s*** and table benches.

Then 10,000 people began an illegal march to the amphitheater and were stopped by a line of pigs.

We ran through the streets toward the Hilton Hotel, but every bridge to the Hilton was blocked by National Guardsmen who volleyed tear gas at us as we approached.

“HERE! HERE!” someone shouted. “An unguarded bridge.” Through some colossal military fuckup by the pigs, we flooded across the undefended bridge to the front door of the Hilton. We filled Michigan Avenue.

The pigs got the order to clear us out and, as TV floodlights turned the dark street into the world’s Broadway, cops shot tear gas, clubbed reporters, pushed little old ladies through store windows, smashed faces and tried to annihilate us.

Yippies built barricades, started fires, turned over paddy wagons and spread havoc through the streets. The Hump’s nomination took place at the precise moment the Nazi state carried out its brutal attack on the people.

Scenes of pigs beating McCarthy housewives, newsmen and photographers, liberal college kids, yippies, delegates and innocent bystanders were perpetuated on videotape.

Scenes of brave youth battling back flashed over and over again on every TV channel: infinite replay of the Fall of Amerika.


Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 11/25 at 07:54 PM
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