Chapter 11: Ted Gold and Dave Gilbert: Roommates, 1967 (ii)
A few days later, I also helped Dave move his stuff from an apartment on W. 110th St., between Amsterdam and Broadway, which he had sublet for the summer. I arrived in the afternoon. We talked for a few hours, while we waited for another friend of Dave to drop off the car and U-haul in which we were going to move his stuff.
As Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde album played on a stereo, Dave told me more about his past life, and discussed his current study of Das Kapital with me. He also gave his interpretation of Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization to me at this time. After talking about the Civil Rights Movement’s continued shift towards Black revolutionary nationalism, Dave mentioned that he used to have intense discussions with a Black woman activist in Harlem during the period when “we were all naïve about the political implications of inter-racial love affairs.”
A few moments later, Dave sang along with the chorus of Dylan’s Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again song, where Dylan moans: “Oh, Mama! Can this really be the end?”
“Do you hear that pain, Bob? Dylan’s expressing the pain that you get when you realize that no matter where you go geographically under capitalism, you’re still going to end up feeling the same intense alienation and loneliness that the System produces everywhere,” Dave explained.
Dave, like everyone else around Columbia SDS, liked to spend time analyzing Dylan’s lyrics and philosophical shifts. Dave seemed to empathize more with Dylan’s shift away from his earlier, more politically radical-oriented albums than Ted did.
After the car and U-haul arrived, I helped lift chairs, a desk, drawers, boxes of books and a mattress from the apartment to the elevator, and then into the U-haul. When we had finished moving Dave’s furniture and boxes of books to our new apartment, we returned to the 110th St. apartment in the evening, where we found many people high, and dancing, at some kind of hip left party. I didn’t know any other people at this party, because most of the hip left people there were a few years out of college and not part of the Columbia SDS scene.
Dave introduced me to another New York SDS Regional Office activist at this party, named Joe, who Dave felt was “a hard worker and a dedicated guy.” Joe was blind in one eye and had a speech impediment, but he didn’t let his poor vision and speech impediment stop him from doing more than his share of the SDS Regional Office shitwork. Unlike most Movement activists, Joe lived with his parents.
A final Summer 1967 Columbia SDS steering committee meeting was held one afternoon in September at the Schneiders’ apartment. Ted and Trude, Teddy and Nancy, the Schneiders, Al and I were there. And, for the first time, a Columbia College student named Robby appeared at a summer steering committee meeting. During his 1966-67 freshman year, Robby had chosen not to be that politically active in Columbia SDS circles.
I had first met Robby in a parking lot that we used as a stickball field—inside the Beech Hills development in which I lived—during the 1950s; and he was, thus, an old childhood acquaintance. Robby’s parents were Old Left professionals. After we confronted the Marine recruiters in April 1967, Robby seemed to become less frivolous in his attitude towards life and more interested in radical New Left politics than in Columbia University academic life, although he had still remained outside the SDS steering committee’s inner circle discussion group.
James and the Twenty-Seven Bicycles
6 years ago