Thursday, May 31, 2007

Columbia University's Joint Warfare Analysis Center Link

In 2006, Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Pentagon's Joint Warfare Analysis Center [JWAC] to study Public Aspirations and Anti-Americanism in the Muslim World. The study is a pilot program that includes public opinion research in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan. Lincoln Mitchell is the primary investigator on the project. A leading polling firm, Charney Research, was contracted as a consultant on the project.

Today, the Joint Warfare Analysis Center (JWAC) contributes to the U.S. war machine by recommending strategic technical solutions. These recommendations are based on analytical techniques that were first conceived, developed, and operationally introduced by the personnel of a program office at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) that responded to the Office of the Secretary of Defense's call for support during the Iranian hostage rescue efforts.

Over the subsequent quarter of a century, JWAC has evolved from a small program office into a joint command of more than 500 personnel. As it grew, it became part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1994 and then was spun-off as an independent joint command subordinate to Joint Forces Command (formerly Atlantic Command) in 1998. JWAC coordinates directly with the staffs of all Unified Commands, Department of Defense (DoD) elements, Combatant Commands, military services, and other government departments and agencies to respond to crises. JWAC has twice been awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award and twice awarded the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office's award for Outstanding Achievement in Modeling and Simulation Analysis.

Next: Columbia University’s RAND Corporation Connection

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Upton Sinclair"

He saw the injustice
He wrote without fear
He exposed all the lies
This man Upton Sinclair.


If you follow the path of Walt Whitman
And hobo around this land
You will notice that professors
Try to tell you what’s “good” and “bad”
They will praise a T.S. Eliot
Or a Yeats and Ezra Pound
But they won’t mention Mammonart
It’s a book that’s underground.

He studied the Civil War
And Harriet Beecher Stowe
He wrote a book Manassas
And then to Chicago, he did go
He observed closely the stockyards
And wrote about it all in prose
The Jungle described the world
And exposed the wage-slave’s foes.

He saw the miners’ struggle
And wrote the book King Coal
His mind always kept working
He wrote the book Oil!
He exposed the schools and press
And religion and magazines
He wrote a book Money Writes
Which made the gentry scream.

He went up to New England
For Sacco and Vanzetti
The book Boston, he wrote
Exposed the Brahmins’ greed
His characters were real
And not obsessed sexually
His books tell of the workers
And of their enemies.

To listen to the "Upton Sinclair" folk song, you can go to following link:

Upton Sinclair was written deep in the heart of Brooklyn in the early 1980s, after I read most of the books that Upon Sinclair wrote before 1932.

Next: Columbia University’s Joint Warfare Analysis Center Link

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Kunstler Appealed To Hillary Clinton For Peltier's Freedom

When 2008 Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Rodham-Clinton was living in the White House during the 1990s with her husband, former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, she apparently wasn’t very eager to end human rights violations by the U.S. government in the United States. As the now-deceased William Kunstler noted in My Life As A Radical Lawyer, his 1994 autobiography:

“Leonard Peltier most recently appealed in Nov. 1992 with Ramsey Clark as his main attorney…

“In May 1993, I wrote to Hillary Rodham-Clinton in response to a rather terse letter she had sent to one of Leonard’s new lawyers, Eric Seitz, who had requested a presidential review of the case. She wrote to Seitz that her husband had no power to interfere in an ongoing criminal case. In my letter to Mrs. Clinton, I criticized her for her cold response to Seitz’s reasonable letter and informed her that she was quite incorrect about limits on presidential interference in criminal cases. She should have recalled former President Bush’s pardon of the indicted Caspar Weinberger…

“I only hope that I live long enough to see Leonard free…”

U.S. political prisoner Peltier was still imprisoned by the Rodham-Clinton Administration on the day Kunstler died; and, in 2007, Leonard Peltier, remains imprisoned by the U.S. Establishment’s government.

(Downtown 9/20/95)

Next: Upton Sinclair protest folk song lyrics

Monday, May 28, 2007

University of Minnesota's DARPA War Research

The University of Minnesota’s Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics Department’s Aerosystems Laboratory has apparently been doing war research for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA] in the 21st-century. According to its site,(, “one of the key projects supported from this lab" was "Professor Balas’ DARPA Program (managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory), `An Integrated, Multi-Layer Approach to Software-Enabled Control (SEC): Mission Planning to Vehicle” which will “enable the use of multi-unmanned combat air vehicles in strategic situations.”

The same Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics Department site also notes that “The University of Minnesota has teamed with UC-Berkeley and Caltech” on this war research project and “the University of Minnesota team" worked "closely with Honeywell Laboratories and Boeing on the DARPA SEC project.”

Since 1989, a University of Minnesota professor of Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics, Graham Candler, has also apparently been working as a consultant for the U.S. war machine’s Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] weapons research think-tank.

Next: Kunstler Appealed To Hillary Clinton For Peltier’s Freedom

Sunday, May 27, 2007

SDS History vs. Clinton Dynasty History

Even when he attended Oxford University in the late 1960s, 2008 Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Rodham-Clinton’s husband, Bill, apparently did not impress most U.S. radical activists as being that ethical a guy. According to a former classmate of Bill Clinton, “a `long-haired hippie type’ who had been active in Students for a Democratic Society [SDS] used to reproach Clinton for paying only lip service to the antiwar movement” and “Clinton…was perceived as a `hypocrite, a faker, and a phony, because he wouldn’t stand up for his convictions.’” (On The Make by Meredith Oakley)

During his 1982 campaign for Arkansas governor, some observers also apparently accused the campaign of Hillary’s husband of “buying” African-American votes to secure Bill’s margin of victory. According to On The Make:

“An analysis of [1982] election returns and voting patterns revealed that black voters had given Clinton the winning edge. They had turned out in record numbers…only voting for governor. The conventional wisdom was that `street money’ distributed to local black leaders had produced the turnout…It was…taken for granted that in some communities, particularly in the Delta, black voters were for sale and had been bought. Certainly, Democratic supporters chauffeured many poor and elderly voters, blacks and whites, to the polls…”

In the same book, Oakley also stated that “During the many years I covered his political activities in Arkansas…I documented the numerous falsehoods, broken promises, and ruses, some of which never saw their way into print” and “Clinton fans are difficult to find in Arkansas.”

(Downtown 11/23/94)

Next: University of Minnesota’s DARPA War Research

Saturday, May 26, 2007

IDA's 21st-Century Weapons Research Work

In the 21st-century ‘era of permanent war” and blogging, the Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] continues to do weapons research work for the U.S. war machine. On its web site at, IDA revealed, for instance, that after the Pentagon “lost about 100 helicopters from fall 2001 to spring 2005” in Afghanistan and Iraq, it “asked IDA to examine available data and records to identify why the helicopters were lost and to develop options for reducing future losses.”

IDA researchers found that “about one-third” of Pentagon helicopter losses in Afghanistan and Iraq “were due to engagements by enemy forces, which primarily used shoulder-fired missiles, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and small arms.” IDA’s weapons research study then “identified several options” for the Pentagon “to improve rotorcraft survivability” in still-occupied Iraq, “including: enhancing the onboard countermeasures suite to counter shoulder-fired missiles; modifying tactics and procedures to minimize exposure to RPGs and small arms;” and “developing a lightweight sensor package integrated with software-based terrain avoidance to improve aircrew performance in degraded environments.”

University of South Carolina President Emeritus John Palms, University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs Professor Edwin Dorn, MIT Institute Professor Sheila Widnall, MIT and Harvard University Broad Institute Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Programs Director Jill Mesirov and Harvard University JFK School of Government Lecturer in Public Policy John White all currently sit on the IDA board of trustees.

Next: SDS History vs. Clinton Dynasty History

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Waitin' For The People"

Oh, I’m waitin’ for the people to strike at my foes
And I’m hopin’ that the students will change the world well
So in our parks we’ll dance
And on our streets we’ll kiss.

And I’m down on professors who try to put me down
And I think it’s so stupid to always strut around
Just give me some peace to play
And someone to love today.

Their careers are wastelands, they live selfishly
I’m working to make ideals realities
As long as one baby is murdered
To bull-shit in class is wrong.

And down with all artists who have no concern
For people who are starved by Amerika
I ain’t no poet or singer
I’m just a rebel bored worker.

To listen to "Waitin' For The People" folk song, you can click on following music site link:

This protest folk song was written in a Bronx slum apartment between October 1970 and July 1971.

Next: IDA’s 21st-Century Weapons Research Work

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Kunstler And The '60s

In My Life As A Radical Lawyer, the now-deceased William Kunstler summarized some lessons of the 1960s:

“Looking back, I realize that the individuals and groups that protested and dissented were all part of one enormous struggle against evil…

“During that decade, we made great strides in civil rights, checking the power of government, and all human rights. But we have to keep working not to lose ground and to continue gaining. If we don’t fight, evil will win…We certainly can’t trust the government to protect us. This is because the American judiciary, from the Supreme Court on down, and the rest of the system are not friends of the people…

“The struggle continues today, although more subtly than in the ‘60s…

“If the ‘60s taught me anything, from the South in the early years to Chicago in 1969 and after, it is that those with power will never quit, that the Establishment will not rest until it roots out and destroys all opposition.”

In concluding his 1994 autobiography, Kunstler observed that “I would like to be remembered as someone who did what I wanted to do with my life, who did it with some other end in view than the mere acquisition of tangible, material goods, who had some effect on the lives of people that I touched” and “who contributed…to the holding on to whatever rights and liberties are still available to Americans.”

(Downtown 9/20/95)

Next: Waitin’ For The People lyrics

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MIT's War Research In 2007

Besides being represented on the Pentagon’s Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] weapons research think-tank board of trustees by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] professors, MIT also continues to do war research for the U.S. war machine in 2007. As Bryan Bender noted in a February 27, 2006 article on the Boston Globe’s site, which was headlined “Pentagon to invest $3 million in MIT bomb research,” the Pentagon is “staking a $3 million investment on a small team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students to help the military.”

The MIT war research project is being led by MIT chemistry professor Keith A. Nelson and funded by the Pentagon’s Office of Naval Research. The goal of MIT Professor Nelson’s research project is “to pinpoint how the so-called improvised explosive devices—known as IEDs—work and find techniques to detonate or short-circuit them” by “studying the molecular composition of explosive materials,” according to the Boston Globe article.

In his February 27, 2006 article, Bryan Bender also reported that the Pentagon “believes the highly controlled experiments underway at MIT and two research partners—Washington State University and Michigan Tech—have significant promise to bear results” and that “the funding is part of a military program, called the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative.” IEDs, according to the Globe, “pose one of the most nettlesome problems” for the Pentagon troops that have still not been withdrawn from occupied Iraq by the U.S. Establishment’s Bush Administration.

Since the Bush Administration began its military occupation of Iraq in 2003, the value of MIT’s Pentagon war research contracts has jumped from $300 million to over $500 million.

Next: Kunstler And The ‘60s

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Shifting Gears

Shifting Gears

Now that I’ve finished posting Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories on this blog, I’m going to shift gears a little. I’ll be posting more information about recent Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] weapons research projects and examples of how U.S. universities collaborate with the U.S. war machine in the 21st-century. I’ll also be posting alternative current news about Columbia University.

Since 1970, I’ve written many protest folks songs, so I’ll also be posting the lyrics to some of these songs from time to time on this blog.

Finally, I’ll be posting (when they still seem relevant) some of the column items and articles that I wrote between 1990 and 1997 for the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newsweekly Downtown that you may have missed.

Next: MIT’s War Research In 2007

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Epilogue: From Berkeley To Kent State

Epilogue: Columbia SDS Memories: From Berkeley To Kent State

From news of the Berkeley revolt to the Columbia revolt to news of Ted’s death to news of Kent State in less than 6 years. Within these years are my Columbia SDS memories. Freedom Now and World Peace and Equality had not been won yet. And the 1960s had still not brought me the sustained romantic love relationship I had hoped to discover with Rona in 1965. But I had learned the truth about U.S. society and I felt that I was one of its un-indicted outlaws, in some ways.

The time between the Berkeley Student Revolt and the Kent State Massacre had revealed why a Revolution was necessary in the United States for a genuinely democratic society to be established within its borders. The test of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 21st-century was whether my generation could collectively make that Revolution happen, despite the intensified repression that the U.S. imperialist Establishment appeared willing to lay on us, in order to try to turn us into docile, but cheerful, robots—as we aged.

Seize their TV
Then speak freely.

Turn 2008 into 1968.

All Power to the People!


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 27: The Bronx and Kent State, 1970

Chapter 27: The Bronx and Kent State, 1970

I decided to finally get a 9-to-5 clerical job to secure the bread needed to get a cheap apartment in this post-draft period of my life. I went to the New York State Employment Agency and it referred me to Cardinal Export Company, which sold RCA vinyl records around the globe. I was hired by a guy named Mr. Lerner to be a biller-typist. It turned out that Mr. Lerner was an ex-Communist Party member from the 1930s, now in his late 50s, who now lived in Great Neck.

Once I was getting my $100 per week in wages, I traveled up to the Bronx because that was where the cheapest apartments were being advertised, after I had decided that I didn’t want to move into a vacant apartment off Avenue D on the Lower East Side which I had been offered. In the Bronx, I found myself a 2 ½ room apartment a few blocks from Fordham University, south of Fordham Road, in a working-class Italian-American enclave. The rent-controlled apartment’s rent was $57 per month.

Before I moved from the Lower East Side to the Bronx, I spent an evening smoking pot with Melvin, in his Lower East Side apartment. Melvin had dropped out of Columbia a year before the 1968 student revolt, become one of the weirdest-looking Movement freaks in the City long before other white New Leftists became freaks and been one of Newsreel’s founders in late 1967. But in early 1970 Melvin had been pushed out of Newsreel for being “too anarchistic.” Yet Melvin had always been a very emotional, very enthusiastic and very “up” person.

I asked Melvin what he thought was happening in Newsreel, in particular, and to the New York City Movement, in general, these days. Melvin laughed and replied: “Uptight, bureaucratic people have taken over Newsreel and the Movement nowadays. Freaks don’t feel comfortable with Movement people anymore. People like us have to develop alternatives to what remains of the Movement.”

April 1970 was spent by me being bored with my 9-to-5 clerical job, painting my apartment in the Bronx and trying to recover from my heartbreak at not being loved in return by Florrie. At first, I felt an identity crisis, because for so many years I had always done New Left activist work on a daily basis, but now most evenings and weekends were free of day-to-day political activism. Once I began to get back into folk songwriting, folk singing and guitar-playing again, however, I felt my identity crisis was being resolved. I also went to an early April “Free The Panther 21” rally in Central Park and march across the Queensboro Bridge to the Long Island City Jail (in which some Black Panther Party activists were locked up) which Lew had organized, and which was attended by thousands of people.

Then Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia on April 30, 1970—2 years after the cops had invaded Columbia University’s campus. The following day, I left early Friday afternoon from work and took the New Haven Railroad up to New Haven to attend a “Free The Panthers” May Day rally on the New Haven Green. Yale University President Brewster had diluted the potential militancy of the protest by making Yale University campus facilities available to pro-Panther demonstrators and expressing doubt that Bobby Seale could get a fair trial in the United States in 1970. National Guardsmen, though, were still walking around the city streets, just in case mass militancy developed. That night, demonstrators ended up being tear-gassed, as we attempted to march around the downtown area, in front of the New Haven Courthouse. Early Saturday morning, I got bored walking around stoned and inhaling all the tear gas that was still in the air, so I took a train back down to New York City.

The following Monday, when I left work and was heading downtown to visit my sister, I saw the headlines about the Kent State Massacre. Four white students had been killed by Ohio National Guardsmen. Like everybody else, I was both angered and somewhat surprised. I had still thought the Establishment was reluctant to shoot down white anti-war demonstrators. It now appeared it wasn’t. I looked forward to the emergency demonstration in Washington, D.C. that was immediately scheduled for the weekend and I expected that the Saturday demo would be militant.

News of the Kent State Massacre ignited campuses all across the U.S. and the U.S. mass media publicized Movement resistance in a big way. Local high school students in the Bronx spontaneously walked out of school for the first time and chanted: “One, two, three, four! We don’t want your fuckin’ war!” As the big national Saturday demo in D.C. approached, it appeared that we might be on the verge of Revolution in the U.S., analogous to what had happened in France in May 1968, less than two years before.

My sister and I hitched down to D.C. on Saturday and we were given a ride by an older anti-war guy, who was a public high school teacher. But when I got to the demo of 200,000, it seemed more like a picnic than a militant anti-war and anti-repression protest. Bureaucratic Movement people and left-liberal Movement marshals were against encouraging any kind of spontaneous mass non-violent civil disobedience to protest the Kent State killings. No Weatherpeople appeared to be around to organize any effective non-violent militancy, outside of the legalistic protest that we had all been channeled into.

In a car on the way back to New York City, I felt that the Movement, as a result of its unwillingness to collectively organize mass non-violent civil disobedience outside the White House to protest both the Kent State killings and the invasion of Cambodia, had made a major tactical blunder. A few days later two African-American students were killed by police on the campus of Jackson State in Mississippi, but the corporate media gave it much less publicity than it had given the killing of white students at Kent State in Ohio.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 26: Uncle Sam Don't Want Me, 1970

Chapter 26: Uncle Sam Don’t Want Me, 1970

In late February 1970, I had finally received the order to report for my pre-induction physical. I mentioned this fact to Howie and he furnished me the telephone number of a doctor who was the mother of one of the other former High School Student Union activists. After I telephoned the anti-war doctor, she referred me to another anti-war doctor, who arranged an appointment with me in her office.

I asked a few Newsreel people whether they thought it made political sense for me to enter the U.S. Army and try to do anti-war organizing from within. The consensus was that little could still be accomplished by Movement activists going into the U.S. Army and that Newsreel people, themselves, would not be able to provide me with much outside support if I was so foolhardy as to go into the U.S. Army.

So on the day of my pre-induction physical, I took an early morning BMT subway train down to Fort Hamilton in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; and in my pocket was a letter. The letter stated that I was psychologically unfit for military service and that I would likely endanger the lives of my fellow combatants in a combat situation, because of my psychotic fear of authority.

At the military base, I noticed that among the predominantly African-American and Puerto Rican group of 200 young men, about 5 or 6 white young men had large manila envelopes with X-rays in them. I waited in line as the 200 of us got processed and examined; and I held my anger in at this first personal contact with the discipline of a U.S. military that was committing genocide in Viet Nam. I felt like shouting out to the other pre-inductees: “How can you let them take your life for use as cannon fodder? Why don’t we all start shouting `Hell, No! We won’t go!?” But I realized that if I made a political scene at the pre-induction physical my chances for a psychological deferment would vanish and it would mean jail, induction or exile for me.

I did get into an argument, however, with one of the African-American soldiers who controlled your position on line, after I complained aloud about the slow pace of the pre-induction physical examination process. In response, he ordered me to the end of the line.

After hours and hours of waiting, most of the other potential conscripts were certified as fit to be drafted and told that their pre-induction physical was over. About 10 of us, however, were ordered to wait outside the Army shrink’s office. Five of us had letters in our pockets from doctors and five of us had no letters. After about another hour of waiting, it was my turn to be interviewed by the Army shrink. I walked into his office with a downcast expression.

He asked for my letter, opened the envelope and read it, as I sat on the other side of his desk. He then looked at me with some disdain, as I maintained my downcast expression, and asked me a few questions related to my use of alcohol and my “sketchy” job history since getting a college diploma 7 months before. Then he stamped some papers and sent me to another office in the pre-induction physical center. At the next office, a young soldier looked at me with some pity, stamped my papers again and informed me that I was “4F.”

I continued to maintain my downcast expression, as I walked out of the pre-induction physical center at a slow pace. When I got closer to the gate of the base, I started to walk a little faster. Once I was off the base, I began to smile and laugh and broke into a run to the subway. I felt happier than I had ever been since the bombing of North Viet Nam had begun on a daily basis in early 1965.

Uncle Sam would never want me again. I had successfully resisted being drafted for military service in an immoral war. I could continue to devote my life to serving the cause of human liberation, not the needs of the U.S. military machine.

Once the draft threat was no longer over my head, I personally felt less desperate than I had been since high school. I still intended to do some kind of Movement-oriented work, but now I was doing it by choice and not also because I felt imprisoned by the draft threat. After I left Newsreel, however, I did not know where I would now fit into the Movement, exactly.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 25: All Power To My Sisters, 1970

Chapter 25: All Power To My Sisters, 1970

Increasingly, though, some Movement women were starting to question the political drift towards the use of militant tactics that would include destroying U.S. corporate and military property by anti-war bomb-planting. Political arguments started to be made by certain Movement women that it was not only left-adventurist to resist the war machine by planting bombs, but that it actually expressed an anti-feminist politics of macho for Movement people to either support or practice the use of revolutionary violence in the U.S.—even if Black Panther Party activists also justified its use in response to fascist repression.

In March 1970, Newsreel’s women’s caucus, under Andrea’s leadership and influenced by the example of the women’s takeover of the (now-defunct) Rat counter-cultural newsweekly, began to push for Movement women control of Newsreel. Because about two-thirds of Newsreel’s 40 to 50 New York City members were Movement women, the demand for radical feminist control of Newsreel could not be logically resisted on democratic grounds. As Movement women took control of Newsreel, those men who wished to remain in Newsreel were compelled to equally share organizational shitwork duties and child care duties with Newsreel women.

Newsreel men were also compelled to accept “personality criticism,” as well as political criticism from Newsreel women, at intense meetings, in order to rid their personalities and political practice of male chauvinist tendencies. Newsreel women were also required to submit to collective personality and political criticism in these emotionally-draining March 1970 criticism-self-criticism sessions. But criticism of Movement women was usually done in a less harsh and more supportive way than was the criticism of Movement men. Mass organizing and mass outreach work pretty much came to a standstill because Newsreel women felt that the organization’s top priority should be to eliminate all vestiges of male chauvinism within the organization, before resuming any mass outreach work.

Some of the criticism that Newsreel people leveled at each other was productive. But much of it seemed organizationally and emotionally self-destructive. Some Newsreel people began to feel emotionally closer or politically empowered because of the intensity and frankness of these criticism-self-criticism sessions. But many activists were trashed by other members of Newsreel, whom they were quite fond of previously, for petty reasons, in a politically destructive way.

Sometimes it seemed like the predominantly upper-middle-class white Movement women were using the predominantly upper-middle-class white Newsreel men as surrogates for their lovers in previous failed marriages or relationships or for male supremacist institutions in general; given the resentment and bitterness that came out in these demoralizing meetings. Many Newsreel people no longer seemed to trust each other or accept the weirdness or eccentricities of each other’s personality or style of doing political work. Movement men who were not attached romantically to Newsreel women were at a special disadvantage now within the organization; because they lacked a Newsreel woman to certify to other Newsreel women that they were “dealing with their male chauvinism” adequately.

Some Movement women who felt dissatisfied with the quality of their love relationships with Movement men attempted to solve some of their relationships’ sexual or emotional problems by criticizing their lovers at these formal Newsreel criticism-self-criticism sessions. One Newsreel woman criticized a Newsreel man in front of the rest of the collective for not letting her lie on top of him when they made love to each other. Newsreel men were requested by Newsreel women to take turns revealing the history of all their previous relationships with women to other Newsreel men, in order to collectively deepen their anti-sexist consciousness.

When I mentioned to my sister some of the ways in which Newsreel women were pressuring Newsreel men to “deal with their male chauvinism” and change their personalities, she was somewhat surprised and remarked that the process sounded somewhat “neurotic.” A Leviathan magazine article by Marge Piercy, titled “The Grand Coolie Damn,” was also influential in encouraging the Newsreel women to verbally trash white Movement men at the height of the Panther 21 trial and the war in Viet Nam.

I concluded that it was politically positive for Newsreel women to set the agenda for their Movement organization, given the depth of inter-personal and institutional sexism both within and outside the Movement. But I also concluded that it no longer made much political sense for me to work with Newsreel. Without a distribution network for its films, Newsreel really wasn’t able to make any mass political impact in the U.S. And until the demoralizing internal conflicts between Movement men and women were satisfactorily resolved, it appeared unlikely that any adequate mass distribution network for Newsreel films would ever develop.

Before leaving Newsreel, I attempted to get Florrie interested in me romantically, since I still was wild about her, despite my feeling that Newsreel wasn’t really making any political headway because of its internal and external political problems. But Florrie was not interested in getting any closer to me outside of a Movement work-situation. So when I finally managed to beat the draft near the end of March 1970, I dropped out of Newsreel.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 24: The Explosion At West 11th Street, 1970

Chapter 24: The Explosion At West 11th Street, 1970

Less than two weeks after I had moved into the E.6th St. apartment, I was staffing the Newsreel office on a weekday in early March 1970. Around 10:30 in the morning, I glanced at the New York Times front page and noticed an article about some kind of fire in the Village which had produced fatalities. As I read through the first few paragraphs, it began to sink in emotionally that Ted was now dead. [According to the book Family Circle by Susan Braudy:

“…In front of the burning house, an FBI agent who had been part of the surveillance team keeping watch on the young radicals quickly snapped pictures of the house’s crumpling brick Greek-revival fa├žade. Since the buildings on the block were of significant design interest, he had been posing as an architectural historian…”

A footnote in Braudy’s Family Circle book also noted that “another FBI agent, Larry Granthwol, would attempt to take credit for the explosion, claiming he had tampered with the bomb’s mechanisms.”]

I put the newspaper down on the Newsreel office desk, told another Newsreel activist that somebody I knew had died in this Village explosion and said I was going outside for a few minutes to get something to eat. On the street, I walked around the block in a daze, began to contemplate what the loss to the U.S. Movement of Ted meant, and cursed the imperialist and totalitarian U.S. society that had forced its most humanistic white youth to become urban guerrillas.

Over the next few days, Diana was identified as another dead victim of what was being defined by the media as a “townhouse bomb-making factory.” Cathy and Kathy were identified as two women who had fled nude from the post-explosion fire; and a third body was not identified. There was some newspaper speculation over the next few weeks that the third casualty was Mark. But it was eventually determined that Terry was the third casualty.

I had not met Diana personally before her death, but her life pattern had resembled the pattern of other Movement white women I had met: 1. born of great wealth; 2. unselfish missionary-type Peace Corps work in a Third World country; 3. identification with, and non-violent participation in, Civil Rights and Anti-War movement activity; 4. radicalization as a result of the Movement’s failure to end the Viet Nam War or prevent government repression of the Black Liberation Movement; 5. increased consciousness of the depth of female oppression in the U.S.; and 6. commitment to Weatherman-led armed struggle in the U.S. in order to materially aid the Vietnamese and stop the repression of the Black Panther Party by “bringing the war home.”

I had met Terry once at Mark’s W.110th St. apartment during the 1968-69 school year and I hadn’t been that impressed with him. He was an SDS regional organizer in Ohio, who had evidently done great political work, under adverse conditions, at Kent State University in the late 1960s. But he seemed more elitist, less warm and less interested in learning about the work other New Left activists were engaged in than most other Movement people I had met. Within the Weatherman organization, however, Terry had evidently blossomed into one of its most courageous, audacious activists and his militant fighting spirit and selfless commitment to making Revolution apparently had matched Ted and Diana’s commitments in intensity.

Life suddenly seemed more meaningless and empty, now that Ted was dead. At Columbia, neither Ted nor I had assumed that either of us would die at so early an age. At worst, we expected to be jailed, exiled, or just temporarily caught in life-threatening situations at an early age, as a result of either draft resistance activism or revolutionary political activism.

There was no funeral for Ted, Terry or Diana. Most non-Weather Movement people were afraid to put together any kind of funeral because it was felt that the event would be crawling with FBI agents; and because other Movement people were fearful of possibly being associated with support for Weather bomb-making plans if they were seen at such a funeral. After the Townhouse explosion at 18 West 11th Street, Weather activists in New York City appeared to totally vanish, so they couldn’t put together any Weatherman funeral for Ted, Terry and Diana. And Ted’s grief-stricken parents were too deeply shocked and embittered at the Movement to set up any public funeral for Ted. It was not publicly revealed whether Ted was cremated or buried.

In the evening of the day I read of Ted’s death, I telephoned my mother to assure her that I wasn’t involved in what Ted had been up to. But I told her that Ted had “lived the way he wanted to live” and “his life had been rich in deep experiences,” despite the tragedy of his early death. For the next few weeks, I would usually dream of Ted. It was hard to accept the reality that Ted was gone and would not see the Revolution that he had worked so hard for in the 1960s and that Movement people expected to be just around the corner.

Ten days after Ted’s death, SNCC activists Ralph Featherstone and “Che” Payne were killed in Maryland when a bomb exploded in their car, near where the trial of SNCC leader H.Rap Brown (n/k/a Jamil Al-Amin and currently imprisoned in a Southern jail) was taking place. There was uncertainty about whether the deaths of Ralph Featherstone and “Che” Payne resulted from an FBI-engineered assassination or were accidental. Later in March 1970, also, some corporate offices in New York City skyscrapers were bombed by some anti-war activists. The 1970s seemed like it might be a “heavy” decade, in terms of the level of popular struggle against the U.S. corporate establishment.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 23: With Andrea Eagan and Newsreel, 1970

Chapter 23: With Andrea Eagan and Newsreel, 1970 (v)

Lala was also one of the women who participated in the women’s takeover of the underground newsweekly Rat around this time. Rat’s willingness to use hip pornographic images of the female body to increase its circulation and the relegating of its women staff members to shitwork roles angered Rat women and other radical feminists within the Movement. So led by Robin Morgan and Jane Alpert, the Rat office was taken over by women. The male Rat underground journalists were soon eased out of editorial positions. Over the next few months, Rat became a non-commercial voice of the early 1970s radical Women’s Liberation Movement.

At this time, Jane Alpert was out on bail after being charged with joining Sam Melville in some kind of bombing conspiracy. Sam had been locked up a few months earlier and charged by an agent-provocateur named “Crazy” George Demmerele, the head of the Lower East Side’s anti-war “Crazies” group, with plotting to bomb a National Guard armory truck. At first, Jane Alpert and Rat had indicated that the bombing conspiracy charge against Sam, Jane and two others was a frame-up. And when Jane Alpert spent an evening meeting with High School Student Union women in late January in my W.16th St. apartment, Movement people had still not been told by her that the bombing charges against her and Sam were not total fabrications. Nor did she hint that she was going to go underground prior to her trial.

Alpert had attended Columbia graduate school but had not been active in the Movement there. After the April 1968 student revolt, she became involved in the Strike Committee’s Community Action Committee that started the Columbia Tenants Union, which attempted to mobilize more community residents to actively resist Columbia’s gentrification policies. In the Community Action Committee, Alpert met Sam Melville and she soon moved down to the Lower East Side to live with him.

On the Lower East Side, Alpert began to write for Rat. Although I was impressed with the articles that Alpert was writing for Rat at this time and I felt that she must be doing politically effective work if the government wished to jail her, I found Alpert to be much colder and elitist in her personality than most other Movement women. There was something about the vibes she gave off that made me uneasy; and I thought it strange that she had not been involved in Columbia SDS before the ’68 revolt, despite her current level of political militancy. But I did not suspect her of being a potential Movement turncoat.

In February 1970 the Chicago 8 Conspiracy Trial verdict and the contempt sentencing of Abbie, Dave Dellinger, Hayden, Kunstler and the others were announced. Large numbers of anti-war youth and white radical youth responded with militant street protest in New York City that included trashing and breaking of windows. Street tactics that had been considered adventurist when utilized by the Weathermen in October 1969 were now considered respectable by Movement people, after the guilty and contempt verdicts were decreed by Judge Hoffman’s Conspiracy Trial courtroom.

The night before “The Day After” demos around the United States to protest the Conspiracy Trial verdict, Howie and I did some spray painting, for a few minutes, on bank windows in Midtown Manhattan. We were stopped by a cop car and were warned not to get caught with a spray paint can again if we wished to avoid an arrest next time. The following afternoon I joined thousands of other anti-war militants outside 100 Centre St. When I bumped into a group of my old Richmond College Social Change Commune friends as the demo was gathering, I realized that the demo was going to be large.

The anti-war people were in a militant mood and we started to block traffic. Very quickly the cops started to charge into us with horses and clubs, forcing people to run towards the side streets. In the confusion, Florrie grabbed my hand for a few minutes, as we were pushed closer together by the threat of the approaching cops, since she wanted a comrade to clutch on to, in the middle of the police attack. Florrie and I managed to avoid being hit by any of the clubs and we got away. Once she had escaped, she let go of my hand and we were soon separated from each other, as more of the anti-war militants began to scatter in a confused way, some throwing rocks at store windows and cop cars, as we all ran.

In mid-February, Newsreel decided to open an office in Chicago and it was collectively agreed that Steve would move out there and help set it up. Once Steve had moved out of the W.16th St. apartment, I felt less interested in living there anymore. The apartment pretty much became defined by Howie’s scene. And although it was fun getting stoned with Howie and doing anti-capitalist things spontaneously (like unsuccessfully attempting to gatecrash into a rock concert at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East theatre one night), I felt I should move on when Steve moved on to Chicago. So in early March, I began to crash at an East 6th St. apartment which my sister was subletting from a Movement person who was visiting Cuba for a few months.

Prior to my move to the Lower East Side from Chelsea, I became briefly involved with an anti-war nursing student who lived in one of Columbia’s dormitories near Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. But, after a few weeks, I realized that I was too hung-up on Florrie to become more deeply involved with the anti-war nursing student.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 23: With Andrea Eagan and Newsreel, 1970

Chapter 23: With Andrea Eagan and Newsreel, 1970 (iv)

By working in the Newsreel office and hanging out around the Falks’ East 15th St. house in February 1970, a few weeks prior to a March 1970 Women’s Day march and a New Haven women’s demonstration in support of the imprisoned Black Panther Party activists, I was able to converse with both Bev and Lala at length.

Bev had grown up on the West Coast and been some sort of childhood performer. In the 1960s, she had married a musician with whom she developed a male chauvinist relationship, which included her getting battered by him on occasion. After moving East and rebelling against the oppressiveness of her marriage situation, she split from her husband and began working in the Movement in the late 1960s. In early 1970, she was in her late twenties and one of the politically strongest women in Newsreel’s Third World community outreach caucus and in Newsreel’s women’s caucus.

Bev was about average height, had long dark hair, always wore jeans and was very sweet, warm and good-natured—if she liked your politics. Like Lynn, she seemed both militantly idealistic and militantly anti-sexist in her politics, as well as revolutionary socialist. Unlike Lynn, Bev wasn’t a radical filmmaker, but was primarily an activist-organizer at this time.

In early 1970, Bev was also studying some karate in order to better protect the space around her from cops, rapists, and male chauvinists. One Sunday morning, I stopped by the Newsreel office to pick up some films for a screening and I noticed that Bev looked quite fierce in her karate suit, as she practiced punches and kicks on the big punching bag that had been set up for the self-defense class that was being held in the Newsreel loft. Bev’s fighting spirit and her affectionate nature appealed to me. In cold weather, she usually wore an army jacket.

Lala was as tall as Sara, but seemed physically and psychologically stronger and much less traditionally “feminine.” She had been a Go-Go dancer in D.C. and a “hippie-chick” who “balled” a number of men, while stoned on psychedelic drugs, in emotionally meaningless ways.

“I remember one night in D.C., when I was balling this guy while on acid, that it all became clear to me. Unless you’re able to be totally self-reliant and totally independent emotionally, you’ll never be free. I realized that I had to learn to live totally alone without getting lonely, in order to be both a revolutionary and free,” Lala advised me in the Falks’ house on East 15th St. one night.

In early 1970, Lala was working and living with Siegel. Siegel was closer to the New York Panthers on a personal level than the other Newsreel filmmakers and Lala seemed even closer to Weatherman in her political views than was Lynn. Lala was more militantly anti-racist than Lynn, but less willing to equate sexual oppression of women with what she felt was the more intense racial oppression experienced by African-Americans. Like Bev, Lala was also learning some karate.

Of all the Newsreel women, Lala seemed the most impatient to make the Revolution, the toughest and the one most willing to actually begin waging armed struggle, as soon as possible. She reminded me somewhat of Bernardine. In early 1970, Lala was writing articles for the underground newspaper Rat, under the pseudonym “One White Woman,” which stressed the idea that Movement people’s practice was more important than their rhetoric; and that U.S. radical women should prepare themselves to escalate the level of resistance to the U.S. war machine, in support of Vietnamese and Black Panther Party women activists.

Although by early February 1970 I had fallen madly in love with Florrie, I was also extremely fond of Lala and felt very close to her politically. Like Lala, I felt the need to resist hip capitalist rock cultural rip-off artists by having the Movement utilize non-commercial rock street bands at its various Hotel Diplomat fund-raising benefits. When Lala helped organize a late February 1970 “Free The Panther 21” benefit at the Hotel Diplomat, I referred her to a street band in which a musician from High School Student Union circles, named Reggie, was featured on lead guitar.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 23: With Andrea Eagan and Newsreel, 1970

Chapter 23: With Andrea Eagan and Newsreel, 1970 (iii)

Our high school organizing caucus’s attempt to recruit working-class high school students by leafleting and hanging out near Brooklyn high schools in January, February and March of 1970 also proved to be an impractical strategy. Florrie and I went out together late one weekday morning and, after handing out underground newspapers in front of a high school to students who were leaving the morning session, we spent an hour hanging out in a White Castle Hamburger restaurant. We weren’t able to recruit any high school students to the Movement, but we did end up feeling closer as a result of organizing unsuccessfully together.

Most of the white working-class high school students who hung out in White Castles were just interested in securing boyfriends or girlfriends, pot, ups, downs or acid and listening to rock music. Although they all hated high school and were anti-authoritarian, they could not see how revolutionary politics or books related to their desire for freedom and love. They were still too young to feel either affected by the draft, racism or the work-world.

It seemed utopian to have believed that small groups of post-college-age revolutionaries could recruit working-class high school students to the Revolution. Only revolutionaries who were also high school students seemed to have a chance to recruit their white working-class peers to the cause. White working-class high school students tended to view us as “outside agitators” because we weren’t inside their schools as either radical teacher-allies or high school student activists. It seemed that unless post-college-age Movement people were willing to march in front of public high schools by the hundreds in order to recruit high school students and, by their mass march example, prove that the Movement was more real than two or three “outside agitators” handing out flyers or hanging out in White Castles, white working-class high school students could not be recruited by us.

On another weekday, Sara and I took the subway early in the morning to New Utrecht High School to leaflet students who were entering the school for their first period class; and to hang out in Seymour’s Coffeehouse with students who began classes at 9 a.m. or at 9:45 a.m., who were also hanging out there. Again, we had negative results as far as recruiting high school students to the Movement. But—as had happened with Florrie—Sara and I felt closer as a result of our unsuccessful organizing together.

Sara had joined the high school organizing caucus in January 1970, a few weeks after I had attended my first meeting of the caucus. She was taller than me and had been more into modern dance than radical politics before 1970. After graduating from college a few years before, Sara had lived on a kibbutz in Israel/Palestine for awhile but had been turned off by the inter-personal selfishness and anti-Arab feeling she discovered on the kibbutz. She was in her early 20s and worked part-time as a secretary, in a job which she found deadening. I had first met her in my W.16th St. apartment, after she spent a night sleeping with Steve, who had been a boyfriend of hers for a brief period. Her friendship with Steve led her to become interested in joining Newsreel.

Compared to Lynn, Florrie, Andrea, Karen and most of the other Newsreel women, Sara was less politically aware and more traditionally feminine. Although she was very sweet, she was still more into wearing expensive chic dresses than most of the other Newsreel women (who generally all wore blue-jeans). Emotionally, though, Sara was much warmer and affectionate than the other Newsreel women. She was quicker to put her arm around you and hug you affectionately than the other Newsreel women, except for Florrie; for Florrie also found it easy to hug her comrades in a friendly way.

In early January 1970, Sara still lived alone in a bourgeois West Village apartment, where she spent a few hours each day practicing her dancing. By February, however, Sara had moved into a less bourgeois apartment in the East 30’s and seemed to be becoming a lot more politically sophisticated, as a result of being involved in Newsreel’s internal political discussion.

On at least two occasions, I was detained with Andrea and other members of the high school organizing caucus. Once, after meeting Richard, Andrea and Florrie in Andrea and Richard’s W.92nd St. apartment, all of us were picked up by cops who spotted us attempting to paste posters, which advertised a “Free The Panther 21” demo, on Upper West Side poles. The cops brought us into the local precinct house, held us for a half hour and then let us leave, after warning us not to do it again. Another time, Andrea, Jim and I were detained inside a Brooklyn high school by a cop for a half hour, after handing out underground newspapers in front of the school. We were released after the principal argued with us in his office and warned us not to return to the high school entrance again.

At this time, Andrea considered herself both a Maoist and a radical feminist, but not a feminist separatist. She seemed more committed to making a revolution and building the Movement than to any kind of literary careerism. She expressed no desire to become a professional writer within an imperialist and sexist society; and she appeared totally committed to the cause of white working-class liberation, as well as to women’s liberation and African-American liberation.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 23: With Andrea Eagan and Newsreel, 1970

Chapter 23: With Andrea Eagan and Newsreel, 1970 (ii)

In early January 1970, we held a high school organizing caucus meeting in Kramer’s Lower East Side apartment. Kramer—a talented documentary filmmaker—had attended Weatherman’s “War Council” in Flint, Michigan in late December 1969 as an observer; and he gave a summary of what he had observed. He noted how Bernardine had given a flamboyant critique of white oppressor nation “honky culture” that appeared to gloat over the Sharon Tate murder. From listening to Kramer’s description of the Flint, Michigan meeting, it seemed to me that the Weathermen were still serious about attempting to “bring the war home” and were preparing to wage armed struggle in support of the Black Panther Party. But I did not yet realize that the Weathermen were apparently contemplating the start of a bombing campaign analogous to what an activist from the Columbia Community Action Committee, Sam Melville, had been accused of doing in November 1969—and apparently were even considering the start of some even “heavier” kind of bombing campaign.

I only bumped into Weathermen on three different occasions around the time I worked with Newsreel. One afternoon, while visiting Frank out in Bayside, I bumped into Stu, who was crashing there. When I said “Hi, Stu” in the presence of a third friend who was visiting Frank, Stu looked irritated and motioned for me to go into another room in the apartment with him.

“I’m going by the name `Tom,’ now,” Stu said in a conspiratorial tone.

“Oh. I didn’t realize that,” I replied.

On another occasion, I happened to stop inside Columbia’s Ferris Booth Hall one evening and accidentally bumped into Josh and Linda, who were sitting together in the lounge of Ferris Booth Hall.

“Hi! I haven’t seen you for awhile,” I said with a smile. “How is it being in Weather?”

Josh replied in a scornful, sarcastic tone: “It’s a great, meaningful job…Why aren’t you in Weather?”

“I’m working with Newsreel now.”

Josh sneered. “With the cameras? What good does that do?”

“It helps raise the consciousness of white working-class youth.”

“White working-class people are hopelessly brainwashed and hopelessly racist, Bob,” Josh replied. “The only place to be now in the Movement is with Weather. And it’s a better option than hanging out in some sterile, plastic university like Columbia.”

Josh and Linda appeared in a hurry to leave. So we didn’t spend much more time talking before they left Ferris Booth Hall—after giving me a farewell look that seemed scornful and disapproving.

“Take care of yourself, Josh. Bye, Linda,” I called after them.

The final occasion when I bumped into the Weathermen around this time was at a meeting in the parents’ apartment of a high school student who attended Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn. The meeting occurred when the high school student’s parents were down in Florida on vacation. Steve and I—representing Newsreel—and Lew—representing the December 4th Panther Support Movement (which had been formed by some ex-Columbia SDS people after Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed)—were there to discuss ways Fort Hamilton High School student activists could support the “Free The Panther 21” campaign. Judy and another Weatherwoman also showed up with a woman high school activist recruit. Judy urged the students to run through the high school shouting “jailbreak”, no matter how few they were in numbers, instead of just handing out leaflets about the planned Panther support march to other students.

“There’s a war going on and you have to choose which side you’re on. It’s not enough to just leaflet. Leafleting is bull-shit. You’re either part of the problem or you’re part of the solution. And if you’re too chicken-shit to do anything more than leaflet at your high school, then you’re part of the problem,” Judy argued in an emotional way.

Judy’s intensity and fanaticism appealed to me on an emotional level. But I felt that, despite her beauty and her bravery and her selfless devotion to the Movement, Judy’s strategic recommendation that the 10 activists in the high school immediately risk suspension, by running through the halls without having any mass base of students behind them, wasn’t practical at this time.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 23: With Andrea Eagan and Newsreel, 1970

Chapter 23: With Andrea Eagan and Newsreel, 1970 (i)

After a brief interview in the Newsreel office in late December 1969, I became an official member of Newsreel and began to work with its high school organizing caucus. Other members of the caucus were Florrie, Karen of Newsreel, Steve, Sara, Mindy, Zarrow and three other activists from the Columbia SDS scene: Andrea, Richard and Jim. As a Newsreel member I also met Bev and Lala for the first time and attended collective meetings that included 1960s Movement “heavies” like Norm, Lynn, the Falks, Allen Young, Kramer, Siegel and Melvin.

Most of the activists in Newsreel were upper-middle-class artsy-bohemian whites in their mid-to-late 20s, who were from wealthy intellectual backgrounds. Newsreel offices were located in New York City and San Francisco and plans were being made to set-up or expand existing Newsreel offices in Chicago, Cambridge and Putney, Vermont. Over 80 films were being distributed from Newsreel’s New York City office and there were many requests for Newsreel films at this time from white and African-American student groups at campuses all around the country, from faculty at various educational institutions and from political, church and community groups in Latino and African-American communities.

What was good about Newsreel was that it would provide its films for free to activist groups that could not afford to pay any film rental costs but wished to use the revolutionary films as organizing tools. Better-financed, institutionally-affiliated individuals and groups, however, would be billed at the listed rental fee. Because Newsreel was willing to provide its films to activists for free and wasn’t into moneymaking, it was not a profit-making “alternative” Movement media venture, economically. But it did seem to have the potential in early 1970 to make a good impact on U.S. life politically. It had been formed less than 2 ½ years before, but its collection of films produced and its Movement reputation were already quite impressive. Politically, most Newsreel people were close to the Black Panther Party in their views and even less sectarian than Columbia SDS’s New Left faction had generally been.

Working with Newsreel in January, February and March 1970, I attended many internal political meetings, brought Newsreel films to be screened and led discussions at places like Richmond College, the High School of Music and Art, Mamaroneck High School, Cardozo High School, Erasmus High School and a special education high school in Westchester. I took my turn every few weeks staffing the Newsreel office for a day and, in March 1970, took a turn as office manager for a week.

As a member of the high school organizing caucus, I also handed out Rising Up Angry underground newspapers and “Free The Panther 21” Committee leaflets to students entering and exiting different high schools; and I spent a number of weekdays hanging out in White Castle Hamburger restaurants, across the street from city public schools. I also performed day care duties at the Falks’ townhouse on East 15th Street in Manhattan.

Like all the other Newsreel activists, I neither expected nor received pay for this kind of revolutionary organizing. But my low rent enabled me to survive by just working about 10 hours a week in the early evening, for two months, as a file clerk for pay, at American Express’s corporate offices, in a skyscraper on Broad Street. I got this early evening job through a temp agency and it provided me with enough money for food and my low rent.

By the time I started to work in an intense way with Newsreel, the main political issue within the organization was how to organizationally respond to the Newsreel women’s radical feminist criticisms of the way the organization functioned and the way the Newsreel men related to Newsreel women, politically and personally. At the first internal Newsreel high school organizing caucus meeting I attended (which was held in Mindy’s Lower East Side apartment), much of the discussion was devoted to criticizing Steve’s male chauvinism. He was criticized for describing Florrie as “pretty,” for putting his arm around Newsreel women in the Newsreel office and for relating to Mindy in a male chauvinist way when they did a film screening together. Movement men were also criticized by Florrie for still sometimes referring to women as “chicks” or as “girls.” Although there was also some talk about the best way to turn on high school students to the Movement, the main focus of the discussion was on combating male chauvinism within the Movement.

Mindy was not as physically beautiful or as personally warm as Florrie or Karen of Newsreel. And unlike Florrie or Karen of Newsreel, Mindy appeared to generally dislike men. But she seemed very intellectual and very politically conscious and the observations she made about male chauvinism among Movement men appeared to be valid. Florrie also impressed me for the first time at this meeting with her intellectual power and her political consciousness. Along with Andrea, Florrie appeared to be the dominant strategist within the high school organizing caucus. Clearly, Florrie was as capable of being a Movement political leader, and not just a Movement office worker, as any Movement man.

Andrea seemed even more intellectually self-confident and politically aware than she had been during the 1968-69 academic year as a Columbia SDS leader. Andrea was the daughter of a medical doctor; and she had been married to a brute of a first husband, following her graduation from Bennington in the early 1960s. After enrolling at Columbia, however, Andrea met Richard. But neither Andrea nor Richard had been active in the Movement while at Columbia until the April 1968 revolt, during which they were married inside Fayerweather Hall when it was still occupied.

Initially, like nearly everyone else who had been active in Columbia SDS during the 1968-69 school year, Andrea and Richard identified with the Weatherman faction. But by Fall 1969, Andrea and Richard felt the Weathermen were off-the-wall and so, instead, they became active in something called the “Mad Dog Caucus.” When the “Mad Dog Caucus” (which was a sect that was militantly anti-imperialist, but not as militant as the Weathermen) broke up in late November 1969, Andrea and Richard drifted into Newsreel.

Karen of Newsreel seemed as politically dedicated, personally sweet and as unselfish personally as she had seemed when I first met her at Richmond College. But she appeared content to let Florrie and Andrea exercise strategic and intellectual leadership within the high school organizing caucus.

Despite all the internal conflict around the struggle against male chauvinism, I, initially, felt we would be able to turn on high school students to the Movement, once we began leafleting and hanging out around the white working-class high schools we were going to focus our organizing on.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969

Chapter 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969 (ix)

Steve’s W.16th St. apartment had a bathtub in the kitchen. Howie and Jamie were the two High School Student Union activists who were going to move in with us. I had met Howie the previous spring, when I had picked up flyers and union newspapers from the High School Student Union’s communal apartment on the Upper West Side, for distribution at high schools on Staten Island.

Our only furniture in the W.16th St. apartment ended up being mattresses on the floor and a few pieces of furniture that we had each picked up from the garbage on the street. By the end of December 1969, Howie, Jamie, Steve and I had moved in; and by early January 1970 the place had become a Movement crash pad for about 20 former high school activists who had been repressed by high school authorities during the previous school year, but who were still members of Howie’s entourage. The telephone rang constantly, as the former high school activists kept telephoning from their parents’ apartments in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens to gossip with Howie or arrange to come into the City and stop by the W.16th St. apartment to trip, get stoned or drink.

It was somewhat sad to see how disillusioned with people most of the former high school activists of the previous year had become, as a result of their organizing attempts of the previous year. In 1968-69, they had sponsored political meetings, handed out leaflets in schools, put out underground newspapers, lived collectively, organized anti-war demos and strikes and been written about in the New York Times Magazine. By early 1970, however, most of their time was being spent tripping, drinking, getting high and trying to repair broken love relationships. Most of the disillusioned activists were being pressured by their parents to get back on the academic track and apply to college, yet they all already realized that the U.S. university system “sucked.” When demos and marches were held, they would all be there out on the street in a militant way and they identified strongly with Abbie and the other Chicago Conspiracy 8 Trial defendants. But they had become too discouraged by the previous year’s daily activism to attempt any day-to-day Movement organizing at the high schools they either still attended or had dropped out from.

The former High School Student Union activists (who were mostly from white middle-class backgrounds or had mostly been on the elite student track) realized U.S. society was rotten to the core, people in the U.S. weren’t really free and revolutionary change was needed. But they felt the approach of the SDS Regional Office staff of older activists to building the Movement (as exemplified by Nick) had been ageist in relation to high school students; and plagued by Marxist-Leninist sectarianism, “correct lineism” and “vanguarditis.” They also had nicknamed Mark in an unfavorable way (referring to him, irreverently, as “Mark Crudd"). Yet they were too discouraged and impatient to be able to collectively develop an alternative way of interesting the mass of New York City high school students in revolutionary politics, once their underground newspaper was not instantly successful in recruiting high school students to strike and shut down the public schools for more than a few days in 1968-69. But they also felt in early 1970 that the Weathermen were on a “crazy death-trip.”

Living at the W.16th St. apartment in January and February 1970, though, was like another constant pot party and it enabled me to meet many teenage activists and former teenage activists who were a few years younger than me, in a grass-smoking situation. The women high school activists were as intellectually interesting to converse with as the men high school activists; and there was always some disgust expressed by them at the ageist implications of statutory rape laws and birth control information dissemination practices.

Jamie was from a wealthy Manhattan prep-school background of divorced parents and had a cynical low-key personality. By early 1970, he was spending most of his time either reading underground newspapers, getting stoned or tripping to Grateful Dead music or hanging out with his woman friend, who still lived with her parents in Queens, but who would often spend the night at W.16th St. with Jamie.

Howie was an enthusiastic, jovial guy with an extremely comical personality. He wasn’t able, by this time, to accomplish much in the way of political organizing, because he was too busy having fun. But he was quite humorous and funny and had a charismatic personality. He lived his daily life in a spontaneous and adventurous way and always seemed to enjoy having an audience of people around him to entertain.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969

Chapter 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969 (viii)

After getting paid triple time for working on Thanksgiving at UPS, I decided to quit the job and give up my Jackson Heights room. My neighbors in the rooming house were very straight males—in terms of their orientation towards the 9-to-5 world—and were complaining about my guitar practicing and my playing of Supremes’ vinyl records on my portable phonograph. And I felt my job at UPS, while giving me a good sense of what factory work felt like and where blue-collar workers were at politically—was isolating me too much from Movement activists in the evenings.

In early December 1969, I began to crash in the living room of my parents’ smaller apartment in Fresh Meadows, Queens. They had moved to the smaller apartment in a slightly more affluent neighborhood, because they finally realized that my sister and I no longer needed to have bedrooms in their apartment anymore, because we had both left home. In the 1960s, the rent control laws made it easier for young people to live away from their parents during their 20s.

I was crashing in my parents’ apartment for only a few days when the TV news reported that Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, two leaders of the Illinois Black Panther Party, had been murdered in their beds by the Chicago cops. The next day, cops in Los Angeles stormed the BPP office there and shot it out with Panther activists, before making arrests. It appeared that the U.S. government had decided to escalate its war on the Black Panther Party—from the level of judicial frame-ups, arrests and random street shootouts in which over 25 Panthers were killed to an all-out campaign of orchestrated attacks on all Panther political action offices. It appeared that civil war between BPP-led Black ghetto masses and the U.S. government’s armed agents—which, during the summer, the Weather Statement had predicted was coming—was about to break out.

An anti-war demonstration was being held in the evening in Midtown Manhattan during the same week to protest the presence of Nixon at the Waldorf-Astoria. The “Dial-A-Demo” telephone answering machine announced the demonstration’s time and place. I traveled into Manhattan and joined a few thousand other protesters. People at the demo chanted “Avenge Fred Hampton! Avenge Fred Hampton!” A few demonstrators threw some rocks through store windows. The cops used the stone throwing as a pretext to charge into the crowd of demonstrators, clubs swinging, and to make some arrests. On the street while retreating from the cops, I bumped into a Movement guy named Steve, who worked as a film editor for Newsreel. I had met Steve during the summer, when he requested my assistance at his apartment for an afternoon, during his editing of a film on the Richmond College Social Change Commune that Karen of Newsreel was also working on.

Steve was a tall guy from rural Western Massachusetts who was more of a hippie-anarchist than a New Left politico. He lived in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, in a cheap apartment, but he was planning to move into a 4-room pad on W.16th St. and 8th Ave. with an even cheaper rent of $40 per month.

“What are you doing these days?” Steve asked.

“I’m looking for some Movement group to work with,” I replied.

Steve smiled. “Why not work with Newsreel? We need activists for our high school organizing caucus. I think you’d be good at organizing high school students.”

“I’d love to work with Newsreel. But I need to find an apartment to share. And once I find an apartment to share, I’ll have to get a straight job to pay my rent.”

Steve continued to smile. “I’m moving into this apartment where the rent is only $40, with some High School Student Union people. Why don’t you move in with us? Then you won’t have to get a 9-to-5 straight job and you can work as an organizer for Newsreel.”

I smiled. “That sounds great. When are you moving in?”

“In a few weeks. Why don’t we get together tomorrow at my place?”

“O.K. I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”

The next day I went into Manhattan and Steve showed me both his old run-down apartment and his cheaper new run-down apartment. On the way to the apartment to which we were going to move into, we stopped off at the local public school to pick up a Newsreel film that had been rented and screened by a 6th-grade special ed teacher. It turned out that the teacher was an anti-war guy I had known at Richmond College, who had gone into teaching in order to avoid the draft. He was attempting to teach his class in an experimental, free-school fashion. While we were in the classroom, he had Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ album playing on the phonograph. But the eight students in the class appeared more interested in fooling around than listening to the Dylan record. And the anti-war teacher looked frustrated.

“A free-school, experimental approach doesn’t work in the public schools. The public school system is a mess,” he whispered to me glumly.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969

Chapter 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969 (vii)

In November 1969, there was another large anti-war demo scheduled for Washington, D.C. At a pre-demo planning meeting on the weekend before this mid-November mass gathering, I noticed Mark. The meeting was well-attended and was being held inside the Washington Square Methodist “Peace” Church. It was the first time I had noticed Mark since the early summer demonstration at JFK Airport which had greeted Nelson Rockefeller, following Rockefeller’s Latin American tour.

Mark really looked like a wild hippie now. His hair was longer than it had ever been and he was again bearded. He also now wore a cowboy hat and he seemed like he was stoned. Because Mark and the other Weatherman men had been beardless and short-haired only a month before, during the “Days of Rage,” at first I did not realize that Mark was attending this meeting, because I did not recognize him. Mark did not bother to speak at this meeting and, after observing the meeting briefly, Mark walked out in the middle of the meeting. So I did not get a chance to exchange thoughts with him at this time.

The November 1969 D.C. anti-war protest was attended by large numbers of both anti-imperialist youth and by youth who were simply anti-war. Weathermen with motorcycle helmets on their heads also showed up in D.C.

On a Friday night during this weekend, just before a Weatherman march from DuPont Circle to the South Vietnamese government’s embassy was scheduled to begin, I bumped into Nancy and Gus in a Movement center at George Washington University. Preparing for this demo in the same room, and wearing a motorcycle helmet, was Dave. Dave smiled at me in a friendly way. And, after he left the Movement center for the DuPont Circle Weather “kick ass” demo, Nancy rolled her eyes at me and grimaced; indicating that she felt that Dave and the other Weatherman had really flipped out by coming to D.C. with their helmets and their super-militancy.

A few minutes later, curious about what would happen when the Weathermen confronted the D.C. police at DuPont Circle in their Weather affinity groups, I left the Movement center and headed up toward DuPont Circle. When I got there, the D.C. cops had begun to use tear-gas and clubs on the anti-war demonstrators. Weather or Yippie affinity groups were either fleeing or regrouping on the various side streets that formed a spoke around DuPont Circle. As they retreated or regrouped, the Weather or Yippie affinity groups heaved rocks through store windows and then quickly ran to other streets in order to continue the nighttime trashing, in response to the D.C. cops breaking up a peaceful anti-war march before it was even able to start marching.

After a few hours of running away from clubbing D.C. cops and police cars which had sirens blaring—and trying to avoid inhaling too much of the air that was filled with the stench of tear gas—I ended up spending the night in a D.C. church; uncomfortably stretched out in a room crowded with sleeping anti-war demonstrators, between a church wall and a bohemian anti-war artsy woman in her late 20s.

The following morning, 500,000 anti-war demonstrators gathered on the grass near the Washington Monument to protest the War, while Nixon watched a football game and pretended to ignore the crowd. Less than 5 years before, only 30,000 anti-war demonstrators had gathered at this same spot, indicating to what degree the rising body count in Viet Nam had turned U.S. public opinion against the government’s war policy. Most of the 1969 demonstrators were white left-liberal middle-class youth who were neither consciously anti-imperialist nor militantly anti-racist. Most of the November 1969 anti-war crowd was still largely into the kind of hip capitalist pacifism that John Lennon had expressed in his “All We Are Saying, Is Give Peace A Chance” song, which the crowd sang in unison.

The Yippies and other hard-core Chicago 8 supporters were more radical and militant than either the white middle-class pacifist youth or the SWP and CP left-opportunists and peace movement bureaucrats who had organized the demo. The pacifist, SWP and CP bureaucrats acted like cops while marshalling the demo, in order to discourage any kind of spontaneous civil disobedience or militant street actions.

Dave Dellinger, however, managed to announce a post-rally militant march to protest the fascist repression that was being legally implemented at the Chicago 8 Conspiracy Trial, but which had not been mentioned by any of the day’s previous speechmakers. So, despite the opposition of the big rally’s marshals, about 10,000 of us started to march to the Justice Department building, demanding that Bobby Seale be free and the criminal conspiracy charges against the Chicago 8 be dropped.

After we had gathered outside the Justice Department building for about 5 minutes, chanting “Free Bobby Now! Free Bobby Now!”, the D.C. cops broke up our demo by shooting a heavy dose of tear gas on the crowd. People retreated rapidly from the building and, within a few hours, were heading back out of D.C. in buses or in cars. Once again, the limits of non-violent militant street protest were demonstrated. As long as we had no effective weapons to use against their tear gas, it did not matter how militant or how numerous we were in our political confrontations with the Warfare State on the street.

After the sun had been down for a few hours, I was offered a ride back to New York City by a young couple in love, a few blocks from the Capitol. A few weeks later, the guy mailed me a postcard saying that, as a result of our discussion in the car, he and his woman friend had decided not to postpone any longer splitting from their parents and moving down to Florida to set up house together.

People changed their lives rapidly in the ‘60s and people drifted into and out of each other’s life rapidly in the ‘60s, in a spontaneous, yet intense way. The combination of the immediate draft threat, the repression from the cops and being high on pot most of the time seemed to produce this readiness to make quick, spontaneous moves.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969

Chapter 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969 (vi)

In October 1969, the U.S. corporate media felt that the War in Viet Nam was now unwinnable. So when a non-Movement, non-radical white middle-class group called “The Viet Nam Moratorium” organized local anti-war demos at which Democratic Party politicians spoke in mid-October, the mass media provided pre-demo publicity. Like most Movement people in October 1969, I felt the main issue was imperialism, racism and the System that had let the immoral war last so long—not just the war. So although I welcomed the entrance en masse of liberal democratic people into the anti-war ranks, I did not trust all the Democratic Party politicians who began to jump on the anti-war bandwagon at this time.

In Manhattan, the Viet Nam Moratorium demo was well-attended, but dull and non-militant. Aside from Pete Seeger, none of the invited speakers or performers appealed to me as much as the speakers and performers who had been appearing for years at the previous anti-war rallies I had attended.

Around this time, I was getting lonesome for Helene, whom I hadn’t seen since I moved from Staten Island. So I spontaneously hopped on a subway from Jackson Heights and headed for the Staten Island Ferry terminal in Manhattan. When the ferry docked in Staten Island, I suddenly noticed a familiar-looking physical beauty standing next to me and smiling. It was Helene.

“You’re just the person I’ve been longing to see, Helene. I was hoping to meet you tonight. It must be cosmic,” I said with a giggle.

Helene laughed and invited me up to her new apartment, where she was now living with a different guy than she had been living with the previous spring. Her present boyfriend was away on a business trip within the record industry. Helene’s new apartment was a bus ride away from the ferry terminal and we spent the rest of the evening and early morning hours, after we arrived there, getting smashed together on Helene’s potent hashish, gossiping and feeling close again. I still was in love with Helene. But she still was not interested in getting involved with any New Left activist.

“People walking around with picket signs aren’t going to ever really change anything anymore in this country. Why waste your time trying to wake all these straight people up?” Helene said. Helene also joked with me about how some of the professors at Richmond College were now acting more like hippies and how a few married male professors there kept trying to seduce her. In tribute to Helene, I later wrote the “Open Up Your Eyes” song:

Open up your eyes
And eat my sweet candy
And hold me tight in darkness
And love me, fair Helene.

Oh, I was just a hobo
Trapped in poverty
But one day I spied you
I’m in love Helene.

Let me buy you ice cream
Fill your world with glee
People call me `stranger’’
Call me friend, Helene.

And I don’t want your money
Save your Aunt Tootsie
I just want to hug you
And be with you, Helene.

The Chicago 8 Conspiracy trial was getting daily coverage on all three TV networks during this time and Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were able to turn it into a comedy show, after Black Panther Chairman Bobby Seale was bound and gagged and shipped off to New Haven for another trial on a trumped-up murder-conspiracy charge. The effect of the fascist way Bobby Seale was treated and the media coverage of the satirical antics of Abbie and Rubin was to increase, in a major way, the number of anti-war white youth who considered themselves radical; and who felt that the U.S., indeed, had a totalitarian political system.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969

Chapter 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969 (v)

As a Movement alternative to Weather, I had begun to consider working more closely with Newsreel. Newsreel’s strategy of focusing on using its films to raise off-campus mass consciousness rapidly and combat corporate mass media manipulation in order to speedily create the prerequisite mass off-campus consciousness necessary to make revolution, appeared to be more realistic than Weather’s off-campus exemplary action strategy. I visited Newsreel’s new office at 922 Seventh Ave. one late September morning on a weekday. The new office was a much larger loft than the previous W. 31st St. Newsreel office that I had visited during the summer, when I had arranged for Lynn to speak at Queens College. Florrie was still staffing the office as Newsreel’s office manager in late September 1969. And she still was friendly.

“I’d like a few film catalogues in order to distribute them among community organizations in Queens and perhaps interest some of them in setting up screenings of your films,” I said.

Florrie agreed to give me some Newsreel film catalogues. And after she gave them to me, she suddenly gave me a glance of curiosity and asked: “What do you do with your life?”

I gazed into her eyes and replied: “I work part-time at United Parcel Service in the evening. The rest of the time I do Movement organizing at Queens College and around the City.”

I wasn’t too successful in interesting community groups in screening Newsreel films out in Queens during October 1969. When I showed the catalogue of films to the Cantor of the synagogue where I had been bar-mitzvahed (which had an anti-war rabbi), for instance, the Cantor’s only comment was: “Why is there a picture of Fidel Castro on the cover? I don’t think we could show these films here.”

As the “Days of Rage” approached, I became apprehensive about what might happen to my old friends from Columbia SDS and I also began to feel that I should be out there in Chicago, after all, in some way. So I telephoned Scott, who was still living on the Upper West Side with his woman friend Carol.

Scott was planning to drive out to Chicago to observe the “Days of Rage” demo. But since he wasn’t compelled to work 9-to-5 yet at this time, he was planning to leave too early in the week to make it possible for me to drive out with him, without me having to sacrifice my UPS night job, at a time when I had no money saved. So, over the phone, both Scott and I agreed that, while it would be good for me to go out to Chicago, it was self-defeating for me to sacrifice my only source of income just to be there as an observer, unless I could get a ride later in the week. But I couldn’t find any other non-Weather Movement person who was driving out there later in the week. So I wasn’t able to show up in Chicago between October 8th and October 11th, 1969.

In New York City, during the ‘Days of Rage,” the news from Chicago was that the only people who had showed up for the Weather demo were the few hundred hard-core Movement people who had joined Weather; and that the Chicago cops had wounded some Weathermen with gunshots and brutalized or arrested many Weathermen, after windows were broken by Weatherdemonstrators. I was not surprised that few people ended up showing up for the Weather demo, but I was relieved when I heard that none of the Weathermen had been killed.

As an alternative for those Movement people who hadn’t gone to Chicago, Movement white radicals who weren’t Weathermen had planned a march in support of anti-war GI's at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Josie, the former Columbia SDS and New York Regional SDS organizer, had set up an anti-war coffeehouse near the army base and 38 GI's had been placed in the stockade at Fort Dix for protesting the War in Viet Nam. Around the time that the Weathermen were completing their Chicago protest, about 3,000 anti-war protesters took buses from New York City to Fort Dix.

To express our support for the jailed anti-war GI's, we started to march onto the grounds of the army base, after a rally in which folksinger Barbara Dane sang a number of anti-war songs in a spirited way. But a few minutes after we entered the army base, about 20 MPs fired tear gas at us. So, coughing and choking, the 3,000 of us quickly retreated from the Fort Dix army base grounds and marched back in a disorderly fashion to the waiting buses which would drive us back to New York City. The tear gas attack on us, which effectively denied us our first amendment right to assemble in an anti-war protest on the military base, reminded me, once again, that unless the Movement developed an effective way to resist the State’s violence against us, it would continue to be repressed whenever it sought to dissent beyond the Establishment’s legal limits and attempted to non-violently disrupt the System’s war machine.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969

Chapter 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969 (iv)

As the “Days of Rage” approached, I still didn’t rule out the possibility of going out to Chicago, though. A split-off faction of Weatherman, called Revolutionary Youth Movement II, was planning to hold a less militant demo in Chicago simultaneously with the Weatherman “kick ass” demo. Near the end of September, I attended a Newsreel film showing at Rutgers University's Newark campus, that was part of a radical student anti-war festival there. Florrie and Lynn turned out to be the Newsreel people who brought the films to be screened. After the film showing, Lynn gave a militant speech to the crowd of about 100 anti-war youths and urged people to come to the Chicago demo in a few weeks.

Although Lynn was not a member of the Weatherman group, her politics at this time were quite similar. Her line on anti-sexism, however, was much harder than the anti-sexist line at this time of Bernardine and the other Weatherwomen. Weatherwomen, such as “The Motor City Nine” (who successfully used their karate skills in a Detroit community college classroom to apparently gang up on two pro-war men students who tried to disrupt an anti-war movement recruiting speech), emphasized the importance of Movement women becoming physical feminists and as fierce physical fighters as Movement men. Lynn, however, stressed more the importance of Movement women fiercely fighting against the male chauvinism of men—inside and outside the Movement—and against male supremacy everywhere.

In early October 1969, a few days before the Chicago “Days of Rage” demo, I bumped into Harvey in front of the Washington Square “Peace” Church on W.4th St., where Newsreel was holding an all-day screening of its films.

Harvey was friendly at first when we met. Then his expression turned serious and he asked: “Are you going with us to Chicago, Bob?”

I shook my head and replied: “I’ve decided not to go. The pigs are too well-armed for us to be effective. I agree with the Panthers. It’s a suicidal trip.”

Harvey frowned. “You’re wrong, Bob. It’s the right strategy. We can’t use the same tactics we used at Columbia to build the Movement now. We have to put our bodies and our lives on the line—and fight—if we want to see a Revolution. We can’t hide behind our white skin privilege anymore. And we have to be ready to die, Bob.”

“I don’t think it’s going to accomplish anything without the Black community in Chicago and the Panthers supporting the demo, Harvey.”

“The Panthers have different strategic needs than we do. Unless we follow through on this demo and really bring the war home, we’ll be selling out the Vietnamese.”

I felt bad about not wanting to follow Harvey out to Chicago, although it still seemed morally justified, but politically illogical, to me. “Maybe you’re right, Harvey. But I just don’t believe it’s the place and time for me to risk my life. Most Movement people in New York aren’t going to join the Weather demo. At best, they’ll join the RYM II march,” I said.

“Most Movement people are bourgeois. We’re looking for militant working-class fighters, not middle-class talkers, now.”

“I doubt if many non-Movement working-class youth are going to go to Chicago either.”

“Well, even if our demo is small, we have to go through with it. We have a revolutionary obligation to fight as hard as the Vietnamese. And to risk our lives as much as the Vietnamese, as long as the war in Viet Nam continues.”

“I agree with you there, Harvey. But I’m not sure Chicago next week is the best place or time to risk our lives.”

“I’m right, Bob. And you’re wrong.”

Feeling further debate was useless, I wished Harvey luck at the demo and went inside the church to watch the Newsreel films.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969

Chapter 22: At United Parcel Service and Queens College, 1969 (iii)

In early September 1969, I decided that I wanted to participate in the Weatherman Chicago action the next month and possibly join Weatherman. Although I had read in the (now-defunct) U.S. radical newsweekly Guardian that Mark, JJ and others had been involved in some physical fights with PL people (during the summer and at the Black Panther Party-called anti-fascist conference on the West Coast) that seemed politically counter-productive, I still felt politically close to the Weatherman tendency; and thought that many anti-war youths would turn up for the October 1969 “Days of Rage” demonstration in support of the Chicago Conspiracy 8. From my previous year’s organizing work on Staten Island, from living out in Queens again, from attending Queens College and from working at UPS, I realized that the political consciousness gap between the elite university campuses and the rest of white Amerika was quite great. But I still felt that the Weathermen could quickly eliminate this gap by an intensive organizing campaign in white working-class neighborhoods.

I had Nick’s telephone number in Queens, as a result of doing some work with him earlier in the summer at Frank’s White Suburbs Organizing Project Movement office in Douglaston. So I telephoned him in the morning one weekday and he gave me the address of the Richmond Hill house where he and the other Weathermen were living in Queens. It was agreed that I would stop by there later that day.

The Weathercollective’s apartment was located in a house, a block south of Jamaica Ave. After I walked up the stairs and entered the apartment I was greeted by Nick. In an adjacent room were other people from Columbia SDS: Josh and Linda, Ted, Dave and Dionne. All said hello to me in a friendly way. Naomi, from the New York SDS Regional Office, was also in the adjacent room and she walked over to me and touched me on the back in an affectionate way. The Weather apartment was furnished in a sparse way, with little furniture except for the mattresses which were on the floor. The apartment looked as sloppy as a typical Movement office: political literature was scattered around the floor and on a table.

Nick then escorted me into the front room to speak to me alone about what was being planned with regard to the next month’s Chicago anti-war action.

“This demonstration is going to be different than previous demos,” Nick warned me in a somber tone. “It’s going to be heavy. And some of us may have to die.”

Nick then explained that since the purpose of the October 1969 demonstration was to bring the war home, Weathermen were not going to wait to be attacked and brutalized by the cops before starting to fight or engaging in property destruction. Instead, the Weathermen were going to Chicago with the intention of materially supporting the Vietnamese people and the National Liberation Front by engaging in property destruction and, in an aggressive way, fighting off the Chicago cops if they attempted to make any arrests of anti-war demonstrators.

“The Movement has to fight more militantly against the War and against the pigs than it has in the past. And not meekly submit to arrest. It’s national chauvinist for us not to risk our lives to stop the War when our Vietnamese sisters and brothers are risking their lives each day against our common oppressors,” Nick said.

I then asked Nick how many people were expected to participate in the Weatherman’s October “Days of Rage.”

“We’re expecting 50,000,” Nick answered.

I felt skeptical that 50,000 white working-class anti-war youth or anti-war student youth were actually going to come to Chicago if it was being advertised as a “heavy,” “kick ass” demo. I then asked Nick what people were going to do if the Chicago cops responded to our increased militancy and increased willingness to fight back, by using tear gas or their guns.

“We’ll be prepared to keep fighting back,” Nick replied.

“This demo sounds different than what people are used to. It’s one thing for people to spontaneously defend themselves against police brutality, like at Columbia or at the Chicago Convention protests. But it’s another thing to announce in advance to people that the demo is going to be a street fight with better-armed cops,” I said.

“We have to prove that we’re not chicken-shit in order to make a revolution here. We have to show that white revolutionaries are prepared to fight as hard as Black revolutionaries and Vietnamese revolutionaries, and not hide behind our white skin privilege,” Nick retorted. (Ironically, by the 1980s Nick had become a white upper-middle-class professor on one of the campuses of the City University of New York).

I told Nick that I would think about going to the Chicago demo and would call him if I decided to go out there with Weatherman. I then smiled at Ted and Dave, as I waved goodbye to them, and left the apartment.

As I left the Richmond Hill house and walked back towards the subway station, I began to consider the prospects for success of the “Days of Rage” in Chicago. I respected the apparent willingness of the Weathermen to risk their lives at this demo, but I doubted that enough people would follow them out to Chicago to risk their lives against the better-armed Chicago police for the action to be effective. I felt the Weathermen were quite justified, morally, in attempting to bring the war home in solidarity with the Vietnamese and the Black Panther Party—especially since the Chicago 8 trial seemed to indicate that the right of free assembly was no longer going to be allowed for the New Left.

Yet I was not confident that the Weathermen could pull off the kind of militant action they were proposing with any degree of effectiveness unless the Chicago Black Panther Party was willing to work closely with them in organizing the “Days of Rage.” When word came down from Chicago that Fred Hampton and other Black Panther Party people were not fully supporting Weatherman’s “Days of Rage” plan because they considered the proposed action too suicidal and “Custeristic,” I felt more strongly that it was doomed to fail. So I was not prepared to risk my life with the Weathermen in October 1969, despite my past political ties and personal friendships with many of them, by following them to Chicago to fight cops and break windows--without Black Panther Party support in Chicago for such militancy.