Thursday, January 31, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Discovering IDA, 1967--Part 5

After smoking with Ted once, I was no longer reluctant to share a pipe of grass or a joint with the anti-war heads to whom I rapped politically about SDS within the Columbia dorms. Most of the Columbia students I turned on with used pipes or water pipes, not joints. By breaking the law together and smoking together, not just talking politics or developing organizer-organized relationships, I and the Columbia students I turned on with in 1967 ended up feeling emotionally closer after each political discussion/pot smoking session.

I enjoyed smoking pot because I think it made me more open emotionally, helped bring me closer to people and made me feel emotionally high more intensely and quickly than the alternative methods I had been using. When I turned on, I felt even more of a generalized love for people of my generation than I felt when straight. I enjoyed the ritual of sharing pipes and joints with each other. I considered myself more of a head than a doper and I always found it most meaningful to turn on with leftist or anti-war heads than to smoke with purely apolitical dopers. In 1967 and 1968, nearly everybody within Columbia’s dormitories was smoking pot at least occasionally, and many students were constantly tripping. It was a common sight in the non-coed dormitories to see tripping, long-haired hippies like Elliot or Fletcher wandering aimlessly around the halls or campus at night, off in their own world, with eyes shining in a mystical way.

The love vibrations on campus seemed to intensify for awhile. People seemed to be more open to getting sexually or emotionally involved with each other in a more rapid way than they were in the early 1960s. Large numbers of students, influenced by the effects of pot and LSD, started to drop out spiritually from the achievement-oriented, yuppie-careerist track which had channeled them to elitist universities like Columbia. Pot and acid, and the sensations and insights that pot and acid induced, seemed to reveal the idiocy and superficial nature of all those straight careers and academic life options baby boom people had been programmed to fit into. There was some relationship between the growth of student radicalism and the spread of hedonistic grass and drug-use. But the excessive usage of pot and drugs also tended to depoliticize large numbers of politically-inclined bohemian youth, as well.

Hard-core New Left people at Columbia, however, were able to smoke pot regularly with each other without becoming less politically active. One theory was that if a person was already a leftist and had leftist moral values, grass usage would not de-politicize him or her. But if a person wasn’t already a leftist and didn’t have a strong sense of humanistic moral values, grass usage would tend to turn that person away from political activism and more towards just amoral hedonism and freer sexuality.

Around the same time I showed the paper on Columbia’s IDA ties to Columbia SDS people, I also brought a carbon copy of the paper to the office of Columbia Professor of English Hovde. Professor Hovde had worked with Columbia SDS’s multi-organizational coalition on the anti-class-ranking campaign because he wished to “keep Columbia pure” in relationship to contact with the U.S. war machine. So I figured Professor Hovde and other Columbia faculty members might want to speak out against Columbia’s IDA ties and push the Administration to disaffiliate, before Columbia SDS needed to start an anti-IDA organizing campaign.

“I’ll have to think about this issue, Mr. Friedman, before I decide my position on this,” Hovde replied after I told him what was contained in the Columbia-IDA expose’ I had written, and he had taken a quick glance at the first two pages, before quickly handing the paper back to me.

“My last name is Feldman, not Friedman,” I replied.

“Oh, I beg your pardon. But thanks for telling me about this.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Discovering IDA, 1967--Part 4

I met Josh in the Furnald Hall lobby and gave him a copy of the completed IDA-Columbia connection expose’. He shared the paper with a number of Columbia SDS steering committee members during a meeting which was held at Teddy’s apartment during the spring semester break. I did not attend this meeting because I went out to my parents’ apartment in Queens during this spring break. I spent the break catching up somewhat on my required academic work and driving up to Boston for a day with my parents to visit my sister, who was now living in a rooming house in Beacon Hill (in the days before all of Beacon Hill again became gentrified).

After I returned to my dormitory room, there was another Columbia SDS steering committee meeting in Earl Hall. A consensus developed that Spectator’s editors should be told about the weapons-research sponsorship activity of Columbia. It was agreed that Mike Klare should bring the expose’ to Spectator’s editorial offices with me. At a faculty-sponsored forum on University-Pentagon ties the previous week, Klare had asked Columbia’s Dean of Graduate Faculties, Ralph Halford, whether any institutional connection existed between Columbia and the Institute for Defense Analyses. Dean Halford’s reply to Klare at that time was: “There is no institutional connection.”

Klare had vaguely heard about IDA before, which is why he asked the question regarding its possible institutional connection to Columbia. But Klare did not know exactly how IDA had been set up and functioned until he, afterwards, heard that I had made the IDA-Columbia affiliation discovery. So when Dean Halford lied at the forum about Columbia’s true relationship to IDA, Klare mistakenly assumed Halford was stating the truth.

Prior to bringing Spectator the expose’ of Columbia’s IDA tie, I went to Ted’s dorm room to let him read the expose’. He had missed the steering committee meeting in which the expose’ had been passed around because he had been away from New York during the spring break.

After I had sat down on the chair in Ted’s dorm room, he smiled and said: “Let me see the paper you wrote that I heard about.”

I smiled in return and handed him the expose’. Ted began to read with great interest. After he had finished reading the last page, he turned to me and said: “That bastard. Kirk really is a bastard!”

We then smoked some marijuana together and listened to some of his early Rolling Stones, early Dylan, early Judy Collins, early Supremes and Beatles albums, as well as to the Dionne Warwick album in which she sang “Walk On By.” A few weeks before I discovered Columbia’s IDA connection, I had started to smoke marijuana with Ted.

Prior to February 1967, I felt that—like liquor—pot and all drugs should be legally sold and all people should have the right to smoke and use drugs, as well as to drink, without fear of arrest. But, personally, I felt smoking pot was not for leftists because it could give the government a pretext for arresting an activist on non-political grounds and because, like religion, it was an escapist way to deal with an oppressive reality. When political activism wasn’t fulfilling me emotionally and I was feeling trapped and unloved, I would escape with my songwriting, guitar-playing and singing and “get high” by being creative and artistic. I had no sense before smoking pot of how intense a feeling the weed produced and that a marijuana high was qualitatively more of a turn-on than a creative high. My pre-February 1967, somewhat puritanical, attitude resembled the anti-bohemian Old Left middle-class attitude toward marijuana that Ted’s parents had, and that Ted originally had.

When Ted started to smoke pot heavily in late 1966, however, I started to reconsider my attitude towards grass because he was the first “head” I knew who remained as politically active after he started to turn on as he was before he started smoking. So, finally, I ended up spending one Friday night and early Saturday morning turning on with Ted, Brian and another guy who lived on Ted’s dorm floor, named Waller.

“It really is absurd that it’s illegal to smoke pot,” I said with laughter, once the grass started to affect me and make me high and really happy and full of laughter.

“Yeah. The Old Left’s line on grass is totally absurd,” Ted replied with a laugh. Then I played him a song satirizing the Marine Corps that I had written to counter the pro-militarist “Ballad of the Green Berets,” accompanying myself on my guitar. The song included the following lyrics:

We are Marines
The best of men
America’s freedom
We do defend….

Charlie Whitman
An ex-Marine
Climbed to a tower
And killed thirteen….

It also included verses about ex-Marines Richard Speck and Howard Unruh, both of whom were also mass murderers in civilian life, and verses about Byron de la Beckwith, the ex-Marine killer of Medgar Evers, and ex-Marine Lee Harvey Oswald.

After I finished singing the song, Ted laughed and commented:

“That’s a great song. Except for the part about Oswald. He really didn’t kill Kennedy, you know. Mark Lane’s written a whole book exposing the whole Warren Commission cover-up.”

“You really think Oswald was framed?”

“From what I’ve read about all the contradictions in the Warren Commission Report, it looks like he was.”

While stoned, Ted would talk much more rapidly than when he was straight. But he still spoke about New Left radicalism, U.S. culture, Columbia politics, U.S. and world politics and questions related to socialism, capitalism, Maoism, Marxism, Cuba, Black liberation and revolution in an enthusiastic way—in-between listening to record albums.

Still stoned in the early hours of Saturday morning, Ted, Brian and I headed for Duke’s Restaurant on West 112th St. and Broadway—which was open 24 hours a day—and ate an early morning breakfast. After breakfast, as the sun was rising, Brian walked back towards his apartment on West 114th St. and Ted and I walked back towards Furnald Hall. Seeing a bundle of that day’s New York Times which had been dropped off in the early morning hours, in front of a closed Broadway newsstand, Ted ripped apart the string that tied the bundle together and helped himself to two copies of the newspaper, before walking back onto the campus. He gave me one of the newspapers and then we each went back to our dorm rooms, to sleep until late Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Discovering IDA, 1967--Part 3

After completing the research paper, I wrote a folk song condemning both Columbia’s complicity with the Pentagon and U.S scientists who immorally served the U.S. war machine. The folk song, patterned somewhat after Dylan’s “Masters of War,” was titled “Bloody Minds” and contained the following lyrics:

Come, you bloody minds
Look what I done find
I done did research
IDA exists
Laugh between your walls
Sit behind your desks
Watch your missiles fall
IDA exists.

The value-free school
Your mask we see right through
The weapons of the Pentagon
Their brains procured by you.

Godly Grayson Kirk
On the board he knits
Smokes upon his pipe
While his bombers bite
Problems he assigns:
“How to make men die?”
Professors they plan
Death for Viet Nam.

In ’56 to serve Defense
Five schools they did combine
Four years later
It joined the bloody minds.

City slums they rot
People live in lots
Atoms to destroy
They’re your little toys
Oh, they pay you well
To create a hell
Did you see the news?
Twelve women they slew.

A division
Its name Jason
In summer they study
They meet, they talk
They plan, they plot

Lovers they must part
Lamps they now are dark
Knowledge turned to swords
Kirk sits on the board
Schools changed into guns
For the Pentagon
Students now they learn:
How to make kids burn.

You stand in class
You spout your facts
A noble scientist
But then at night
You join the fight
You do secret research.

Murder poor peasants
With the tools you sent
Orphan thin children
Help the bastards win
Kill them with your mind
Paralyze their spines
Someday you will die
And in slime you’ll lie.

Prior to March 1967, IDA had rarely been mentioned in the U.S. Establishment mass media or in the left, underground or campus press. A few Establishment magazine articles on IDA had appeared between 1956 and 1967 and IDA had been mentioned in a few books for academic specialists published by university presses. But the New York Times had barely acknowledged its existence. The Rand Institute, not the Institute for Defense Analyses, was the military-oriented think-tank that had received most of the Establishment mass media publicity prior to March 1967. After March 1967, IDA began to receive more mention in the Columbia Daily Spectator and in left newspapers and magazines like New Left Notes, the Worker, the [U.S.] Guardian and Viet Report. But the U.S. Establishment’s mass media still refused to mention IDA. After my name appeared in some leftist publications in reference to the Columbia-IDA revelation, the FBI opened a file on me and started to investigate me using information provided by the Columbia University Registrar’s Office, according to my de-classified FBI files.

Columbia’s IDA affiliation came to also symbolize the degree to which Columbia University’s research budget was dependent on receiving Pentagon basic and unsolicited research contracts. Like most elite U.S. universities, Columbia was dependent on corporate research funds and Pentagon research funds for financing much of its institutional research activity.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Discovering IDA, 1967--Part 2

The Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] Annual Reports also revealed that Columbia University President Grayson Kirk was not only a trustee of IDA, but was also on the executive committee of IDA’s board of trustees. They described and bragged about the military applications of weapons research work that, under university sponsorship, IDA research workers engaged in at IDA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, in cooperation with Pentagon officials, using language like the following:

“As the oldest division of the Institute, the Weapons Systems Evaluation Division [WSED] celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. During the past decade, the primary WSED mission has been to conduct analyses and evaluations of operational and future weapons systems for the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group [WSEG] in response to the needs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, and other components of the Office of the Secretary of Defense…Added emphasis has in recent years been placed on studies of military logistics and operations in Southeast Asia and on studies of anti-submarine warfare….

“During the past year, the Division continued its substantial efforts in evaluating ballistic missile capabilities. It also studied low-altitude aircraft operation from both offensive and defensive points of view…studied fire support of counterinsurgency situations…Other studies that were completed during the year dealt with various topics, including…Southeast Asia problems….

“The mission of the Research and Engineering Support Division [RSED] is to analyze natural phenomena and to evaluate systems that are of particular interest to the national security.
“…The Division carried out intensive studies of problems of tactical warfare and remote area conflict…

“Several of the study groups in tactical warfare systems focused on…the possibilities of airborne television reconnaissance at night, and potential methods for personnel protection, particularly for counterinsurgency operations. One of the operations research projects that was carried out was concerned with available data bases for counterinsurgency operations….”

The Annual Reports also noted that IDA’s university ties were important because it enabled the Pentagon to more easily recruit university professors to perform weapons research work who might have objected to working with a purely U.S. military-directed, non-university-affiliated organization, in language like the following:

“The Jason Division was created in 1958 as an attempt to expose outstanding university scientists—mostly physicists—to critical defense needs in the belief that they could make significant contributions to the solution of defense problems…The intent of this experimental approach was to provide a mechanism to make available to outstanding university scientists an opportunity to work regularly but not exclusively on problems of importance to the national security in a way that would not exact a career penalty.”

The Annual Reports also revealed that eleven other major universities besides Columbia—M.I.T., Princeton, Penn State, University of Michigan, University of Chicago, University of California at Berkeley, Tulane, Stanford, University of Illinois, Case Western Reserve and the California Institute of Technology—were also institutional members of IDA. Finally, the Annual Reports indicated that IDA’s Jason Division, which consisted of university professors, met each summer to collectively perform practically applicable counter-insurgency weapons research, using language like the following:

“In 1964 a new excursion was made. Increased Government attention to such problems as counterinsurgency, insurrection, and infiltration led to the suggestion that Jason members might be able to provide fresh insight into problems that are not entirely in the realm of physical science.”

At least three Columbia University professors, Leon Lederman, Henry Foley and a Professor of Mathematics named Bernard Koopman, were listed as being IDA Jason Division weapons development researchers.

I took a lot of notes and by the following weekend the “Columbia SDS Research Committee” paper which exposed Columbia’s IDA ties was written up and typed. In Spring 1967 there wasn’t really a “Columbia SDS Research Committee.” But because I wished to emphasize the importance of Columbia SDS, not my own individual contribution, I credited the “Columbia SDS Research Committee” with authorship of the paper.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Discovering IDA, 1967--Part 1

In early March 1967, by accident, I discovered Columbia’s institutional affiliation with the Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA]. It happened on a cold Saturday afternoon.

I had gone into the stacks of Butler Library to do some research for my term paper on “The Military-Industrial Complex’s Role In Determining U.S. Foreign Policy” which I had decided to write for Professor Schilling’s “American Foreign Policy II” course. I started to browse around the 350 to 355 Dewey Decimal section, thumbing through books related to the U.S. military-industrial complex, in order to get some information for my term paper.

Picking up a book on military research, titled Schools for Strategy, I slowly turned the pages until I reached the index. Just to see if, by chance, Columbia University was mentioned in relationship to Pentagon war-related research.

Sure enough, Columbia University was listed in the index. And when I started reading the indicated pages, I first felt some anger. Then I started to laugh out loud as I stood reading there alone in the stacks. “IDA stands for `Institute for Defense Analyses.’ The Institute for Defense Analyses is a think-tank like the Rand Institute, which develops weapons for the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff under the sponsorship of U.S. universities. Columbia University, without telling either its faculty, its student body, or its student newspaper, Spectator, has been institutionally sponsoring secret weapons development research for Pentagon generals since 1960. The liberal Columbia Administration, despite its talk of `value-freedom’ and political neutrality, was actually in bed with the same Pentagon that waged unjust war in Viet Nam.” These were my immediate thoughts as I read through a few pages of the book.

Ten minutes after I discovered that Columbia University was tied to a Pentagon think-tank—IDA—that I had never heard of before, I was on my way to the Butler Library stacks exit to check out the book which described Columbia’s ties to the IDA.

I immediately felt that if the Columbia Administration didn’t resign its institutional membership in IDA, the Columbia and Barnard student left might be able to create a Berkeley 1964 revolt-type situation at Columbia—as a way of effectively protesting both the insanity and immorality of U.S. military intervention in Viet Nam and the political powerlessness and lack of generational freedom felt by students in the 1960s.

After leaving the stacks, I spent the rest of the afternoon taking notes about Columbia’s IDA connection in the main reading room at Butler Library and looking for references to IDA in the Butler Library card catalogue. The catalogue cards which referred to IDA indicated that the annual reports of the IDA for the 1956 to 1966 years were contained in the “JX” section of Columbia’s International Law Library. After copying down the appropriate call numbers, I headed out of Butler Library and back to my Furnald Hall dorm room.

The morning after I discovered Columbia’s IDA connection was a Sunday, so I was not able to check out the International Law Library’s material on IDA. I did telephone Josh, though. Linda answered the phone in a drowsy voice which didn’t sound too enthusiastic.


“Hi. This is Bob Feldman. May I speak to Josh?”

“Oh. Just a minute.”

Josh then said “Hello” in a friendlier voice.

“Hello, Josh?...This is Bob Feldman. I was doing some research in the library and I think I discovered something important for SDS to look into. Columbia University is an institutional member of something called the Institute for Defense Analyses, which is a weapons research think-tank like the Rand Institute, that develops weapons for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Josh laughed. “Well, that’s not too surprising. It’s an interesting discovery. But what would be our political demand?”

“Our demand should be that the Columbia University Administration resign its institutional membership in the Institute for Defense Analyses,” I answered.

“That sounds like a clear-cut demand,” Josh replied. “Let me know if you find anything more about this. Bye now.” Then he hung up.

The following day I cut all my classes and spent most of the day and the two subsequent days reading the IDA annual reports which were contained in the International Law Library, but which could not be taken out of the library. The annual reports bragged about how crucial IDA was to carrying out the Pentagon’s Cold War military mission. They also bragged about how crucial a contribution university members like Columbia made to the U.S. war machine by being involved with IDA, using language like the following:

“If the Institute for Defense Analyses has produced important studies on problems in national security, much of the credit must go to the university world. Five universities gave IDA its start in 1956, and since then seven more have become Members, broadening our contact with the academic community and strengthening the direction of our corporate affairs. From these and other universities have come many of our scientists and officers, as permanent members or on leaves of absence....

"Without the efforts of these men and the cooperation of these institutions, IDA would not be what it is. We are proud to be able to grace the pages of our report with scenes of the campuses of our twelve Member Universities, as partial recognition of our debt to the entire university world."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1967--Part 14

Prior to winning the anti-class-ranking campaign, Columbia SDS was preparing to lead a strike, if necessary, and Phil Ochs came to the campus to give a free concert, in order to help build up enthusiasm for the possible strike. My sister was as into Ochs as I was at this time and she came into Manhattan from Queens to attend the concert at Columbia with me. We both were expecting Ochs to carry on the early Dylan tradition of folk protest songwriting that Dylan had abandoned. But after Ochs sang his “Nobody’s Buying Flowers From The Flower Lady” song in a deeply felt way, which moved his leftist audience, it seemed that Ochs, too, was moving away from protest songs in his new writing.

After my sister had gone back to Queens, I talked with Ted about Ochs’ performance.

“I think he was stoned when he gave the concert. I could swear that he was stoned. The way his eyes looked,” Ted said with laughter, as we sat in his dorm room. “Maybe that’s why he’s getting less political.”

Ted had started to smoke marijuana, himself, around this time. The guy he smoked most with was his new friend, Brian. Brian had entered Columbia the same year I had and lived with male roommates in an apartment on West 114th St. He was a tall guy from Hartford, Connecticut who pretty much got stoned every night, although his hair was never long. Brian came from money and politically non-radical parents. He was a gentle, reserved guy who became both very active in the Movement at Columbia and a great friend of Ted.

Brian was not into any heavy career-preparation trip and was both hedonistic and idealistic in Spring 1967. He was never reluctant to do Columbia SDS shit work and pretty much attended every Columbia SDS meeting or demonstration or rally that Ted and I attended. He also cut classes a lot like I did.

Around the time the campaign to end class-ranking for the draft was won, I began to feel threatened, personally, by the draft. I bought myself a book which described the procedure for seeking conscientious objection. Then I went to my local draft board in Flushing to register and, on one of their forms, noted my intention to eventually seek conscientious objection status, at the same time I also applied for a 2-S deferment. I took the 2-S deferment option because I wished to continue to do anti-war institutional resistance work in the U.S. and the deferment protected me from being captured by the war machine. I felt that granting deferments to college students, but not to non-student youths, was undemocratic. Columbia Spectator, the student newspaper, had even printed a letter to the editor by me on this issue during my freshman year. But as long as the 2-S deferment was an option, I had no reservations about taking it to prevent Uncle Sam from stopping my resistance to the U.S. military machine on the home front.

Once I was registered for the draft, I felt compelled to remain at Columbia in order to protect my deferment. I no longer toyed with the idea of dropping out of college. Much of my political activism was now motivated by my intense anger at being subject to the draft following my four years of college—or if I chose to drop out of Columbia. I felt trapped and enslaved by the draft. I felt that I could not plan my personal life beyond getting a college degree. I did not wish to either go to jail for draft resistance, flee to Canada, go underground, go to grad school or fight in an unjust war and have to submit to U.S. military discipline. I felt a social system that only gave those choices to its young men deserved to be overthrown.

Although certain leftist sects took the position that anti-war students should go into the U.S. military if drafted and organize against the war from within the military, and refuse to hide behind 2-S deferments, I regarded this position as unrealistic in 1967. I didn’t think anti-war organizing within the U.S. military could be as effective as campus anti-war organizing in 1967. I felt no confidence in 1967 that leftist men who went into the U.S. military could really disrupt it without ending up in military stockades or being shot in the back.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1967--Part 13

I wrote a song titled “The SDS Kids” around this time, which reflected my feeling that, prior to meeting “The SDS Kids,” all the men around me seemed cold emotionally and morally dead. As we built for a possible strike against class-ranking for the draft, life for me became one meeting after another, leafleting, bumping into other SDS people and chatting, and becoming part of a high-energy whirlwind. I had entered a world in which many people were activist and similar in value-structure to me. I wasn’t involved romantically with anyone. But I had started to forget about my love for Beth because she didn’t involve herself with Columbia SDS as an activist and didn’t even attend SDS rallies. All of a sudden I was meeting all these leftist people at once and was so busy that I almost didn’t feel lonely anymore.

One thing I liked about Columbia SDS people is that they evaluated students primarily on the basis of their politics and their level of political commitment. Columbia SDS men who were romantically involved with Barnard “chicks,” though, did have more status than unattached New Left men. Barnard leftist women who were sexually open or considered physically attractive also had higher status within Columbia SDS circles than leftist women who were unattached or not considered physically attractive. But Barnard leftist women who were politically active and energetic were still highly regarded, even if they lacked a boyfriend or were regarded as physically unattractive.

Barnard leftist women were expected to accept politically subordinate leadership roles within SDS. But neither male nor female New Leftists questioned much the male supremacist pattern of political organization within Columbia SDS until 1969.

I continued to find myself being drawn towards Teddy in a brotherly, comradely sort of way. He seemed to have sorted out the important things in life from the clutter and always had time to talk with you about anything. I also was really growing fond of Nancy, who now lived with him in the W. 115th St. apartment.

A united front was formed with other campus organizations to end class-ranking for the Selective Service System by Columbia. As a result of this united front of students, Frank—the 1967 head of Citizenship Council—drew closer to Columbia SDS circles and became more radicalized.

I had first met Frank on Election Day in NYC in 1965. In exchange for us recording voting results at a particular city polling place for NBC News’ computers, to enable NBC to project an election winner faster than CBS or ABC, Citizenship Council received some donation from NBC for Citizenship Council’s community service programs. As we returned from the polling place where we had gathered figures for NBC’s computer, Frank said: “It’s a dirty war. A totally dirty war. We never had any business going into Viet Nam after the French left. And there’s no way I’m going to serve in the military as long as we’re still in Viet Nam.”

Frank was a beardless, thin guy of about 6 feet, who usually wore glasses. He had grown up in Douglaston Manor, on the other side of the tracks from the Beech Hills development where I had lived as a child. The son of an upper-middle-class white Catholic medical doctor, Frank was a good-natured, easygoing, non-materialistic, socially concerned, anti-racist liberal when I first met him.

Frank didn’t dress bohemian in February 1967, had short hair and did not consider himself a freak at that time. But he kept himself awake in his Furnald Hall single dorm room during his 1966-67 senior year at Columbia by taking Dexedrine. Frank used to get his Dexedrine from his father’s supply in Douglaston Manor. He shared some of the Dexedrine with me that spring one night, when I had to stay up all night to study for a final.

Because Frank more accurately reflected the pre-radicalized mass political mood at Columbia, he—not anyone from Columbia SDS—was the chief spokesperson at the mass united front vigil we held outside Low Library, prior to a trustees meeting which was to decide whether to continue sending class-ranking information to the U.S. draft boards. The Columbia Administration, on this occasion, conceded to our demand and class-rankings were no longer sent by Columbia to the draft boards.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1967--Part 12

February 1967 remained hectic, with SDS activity on two fronts at Columbia. The Columbia Administration went ahead with its disciplinary action against the PL-led students who had sat-in against the CIA’s campus recruitment. A hearing was held around the time that Ramparts Magazine was disclosing how the CIA had secretly used many “non-profit” U.S. educational foundations as conduits to finance non-leftist political organizations like the National Student Association [NSA], and activities in which people like Gloria Steinem, Allard Lowenstein and Barney Frank participated in during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The anti-class-ranking campaign was also beginning to reach out to both liberal student leaders of the Columbia Citizenship Council and the Undergraduate Dormitory Council [UDC] and to the broad mass of liberal Columbia College students. A characteristic tendency of Columbia SDS in 1967 was to ignore mass organizing at Barnard and neglect to make any real attempt to mobilize Barnard women against the institutionalized male-supremacist nature of Columbia. I did set up a Brooks Hall lounge dormitory meeting at Barnard in which Gadfly’s editor, Paul, and Professor Stade spoke out against the U.S. war machine before a small group of Barnard students, who floated in and out. But we all generally assumed that only anti-war men at Columbia were qualified to be featured at SDS public meetings. Only on rare occasions was the “exceptional” leftist woman allowed to speak at SDS-sponsored educational events. Yet New Left women at Barnard and Columbia did not vocally protest against SDS’ male chauvinist political practice in 1967.

I didn’t relate much to the disciplinary hearing of the anti-CIA students, because the hearing was initially closed to most leftist students. According to de-classified NYPD “Red Squad” documents, however, a New York City undercover cop attended these hearing sessions and made notes that listed the names of those students and professors who also attended the hearing sessions, for “Red Squad” files.

I did spend time listening to the rapidly improving campus sundial oratory of Paul:

“The CIA is a criminal organization. It respects no rules of international law. It abides by no morality—except for the morality of Goring, Goebbels and Hitler. Columbia University President Kirk directs the Asia Foundation. The Asia Foundation acted as a conduit for CIA funds. Columbia University awarded an honorary degree to Allen Dulles in the 1950s in order to legitimize CIA Director Dulles’ role in ordering CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala.”

Paul spoke in a fiery way. His face reddened with outrage when he described from the sundial how current U.S. foreign policies violated Jeffersonian principles of democracy.

Ted also felt Paul had become an increasingly effective orator. But in his dorm room one night, Ted cited one reservation he had about Paul’s 1967 politics:

“He doesn’t argue against the war from either a New Leftist or a Marxist ideological perspective. But just from a militant liberal democratic, constitutionalist perspective. He ends up perpetuating illusions that the U.S. Constitution and Jefferson’s political thought genuinely reflect a commitment to a truly democratic society. We want to rid people of these illusions.”

In February 1967, Ted was the Columbia SDS agitator who initiated the anti-class-ranking campaign by standing up on a wall in front of Hamilton Hall, between the 9 o’clock and 10 o’clock classes, and addressing three other Columbia SDS guys. While he attempted to harangue them, large numbers of students apathetically walked by him. Many of these Columbia students glanced at Ted with a condescending smirk as they passed by him.

Ted’s oratorical style was more verbose and pedantic, as well as less emotional and concise, than Paul’s style. But his political summations were more traditionally Marxist. Paul was much better at using hecklers to stir up leftist mass moral passion, because he could quickly think up an emotionally and verbally good response to a right-wing heckler. Ted was less quick and witty than Paul at retorting to hecklers. Although Ted explained SDS positions very logically, he was sometimes too long-winded and not verbally flashy enough to stir up student mass emotions. He usually sounded more like a super-logical leftist intellectual than a charismatic orator.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1967--Part 11

Around this same time, a regional SDS conference was held in Princeton, New Jersey one weekend. Eliezer and I took a bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 40th St. and Eighth Ave. late Friday afternoon. We arrived on Princeton University’s dead, deserted campus by early evening. In the large lecture room where the SDS conference was being held I noticed other Columbia SDS people, who had come to Princeton by car. SDS people from other New York City area chapters were also there, reminding me that SDS was more than what happened at Columbia.

At this Princeton conference, Dave read “The Port Authority Statement,” which he had written with Bob Gottlieb and Gerry Tenney. "The Port Authority Statement" was intended to be an updated equivalent of the "Port Huron Statement" of early National SDS. Its basic argument was that “the new working-class” of technocrats, technicians and middle-class professionals was going to be the agent of Revolution in the United States, instead of the traditional industrial working-class—which was declining in numbers and social power because of technological change.

After Dave read his "Port Authority Statement", an elderly editor or former editor of some Old Left publication looked perturbed and unimpressed. In a dogmatic, Old Left-chauvinist, intellectually elitist way, he argued that the New Left of the 1960s was “wrong to write off the industrial working-class under capitalism” and that “the new working-class theory” was “non-Marxist” and “made no sense.”

Yet in 1967, given the general political passivity of U.S. industrial workers in relationship to the U.S. war machine, and given the growing enthusiasm of white middle-class, pre-professional college students for radical politics, Dave’s “New Working-Class Theory” seemed to explain reality. New Leftists around Columbia were guided by New Working-Class theory political conceptions when they organized during the next year.

The Old Left editor’s argument against the New Working-Class theory was snickered at by most of the younger generation SDS people. Not just because of our ageism in relationship to Old Leftists of the older generation, but also because his description of the U.S. industrial working-class in the 1960s seemed inaccurate. The Old Left editor’s picture of the industrial working-class seemed like a result of wishful thinking and not a picture that was based on concrete investigation, observation and interaction with 60s industrial workers on the factory shop floor.

I can’t recall anything else about the Princeton conference meeting. Ted and Harvey were going back to New York City after the Friday night meeting and there was extra room in the car they were traveling in. Because the conference seemed boring, unproductive and irrelevant to mass organizing at Columbia, I was glad to get a lift back in the same car in which Ted, Harvey and Ted’s woman friend Judith were leaving early in. Eliezer stayed longer in Princeton and traveled back to New York City on a bus alone.

On the drive back from Princeton, Harvey sat next to me in the backseat and we talked about our lives, while rock music played over the car radio and other people in the crowded car engaged in other conversation.

“I was in Brooklyn CORE in the early 60s. And it amazed me to learn how racist the System was. And I used to play some guitar and write poetry. But it’s not enough just to be an artist. The point of life is to be a revolutionary and a communist, Bob. Marxist-Leninism, not C. Wright Mills, does explain the world. It really does explain how to end not only the Viet Nam War, but all future wars,” Harvey earnestly said at one point. In the crowded car, Harvey sounded so intellectually certain of his values, of his political ideology and of his purpose in life—and so morally motivated—that I really felt that Columbia SDS could, in fact, not only organize the whole Columbia and Barnard student body into the radical movement, but also the whole United States.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1967--Part 10

Around this time, other leftist students became involved with Columbia SDS who formed the hard-core of its “praxis-axis” faction. “Praxis” was a political term used by National SDS people to describe political theorizing and strategizing which related to daily radical activism.

Evansohn was a graduate student in sociology at Columbia of average height who dressed straight, not bohemian. He looked like a future academic, not like an activist, artist or hippie. He was beardless and had no mustache. His hair was not super-long, although it was longer than most Columbia professors at that time.

Evansohn attended Columbia SDS steering committee meetings fairly regularly during Spring 1967. He saw himself as more of an academic, Marxist theoretician than as an organizer-activist or Movement shitworker. Evansohn rarely volunteered to either write leaflets, type-up stencils, run the mimeograph machine, post leaflets, make phone calls, hand out leaflets, sit at Columbia SDS recruiting tables or walk around with petitions. He was apparently from upper-middle-class wealth and had studied at SUNY-Binghamton before entering Columbia graduate school.

Evansohn’s basic political argument was that Columbia, like the University of California at Berkeley, was no more than a vocational training school and research instrument for the corporations and U.S. corporate capitalism. And that the education we were all receiving inside Columbia’s classrooms was “bourgeois” mis-education and little more than the transferring of “bourgeois ideology and culture” to a new generation of captive students.

“Students have to be shown that the corporate interests served by the Columbia Administration are antagonistic to their own student interests. And that to insure that Columbia serves their own interests, they must struggle to take power over the institution from the Administration,” Evansohn argued at one meeting.

Columbia SDS’s New Left faction accepted the truth of Evansohn’s theoretical argument at this time. His basic notion about the Columbia Administration’s true relationship to U.S. capitalism and U.S. corporate interests, and the bourgeois ideological bias of its class course content, seemed to reflect the reality of the late 1960s situation at Columbia.

Peter Schneider was another key praxis-axis theoretical leader who became active around this time. Like Evansohn, Schneider was very intellectual, academic and non-bohemian. He was a philosophy major and was already married to an equally politically-involved Barnard student named Linda Schneider. The Schneiders lived in a high-rise, middle-class apartment building on La Salle Street, a few blocks north of Columbia’s campus.

The Schneiders, unlike Evansohn, were willing to volunteer their time writing leaflets after meetings. But neither one of the Schneiders ever seemed willing to do much dorm canvassing, perhaps because of Peter Schneider’s increasingly elitist, frivolous and non-passionate approach to radical politics. Although Peter Schneider was only a Columbia College junior in Spring 1967, he seemed, on an emotional level, prematurely old, like a 21-year-old with a middle-aged heart. Like Evansohn, Peter Schneider thought that Columbia and Barnard students could be radicalized purely by “education alone.” Linda Schneider was a bit more emotionally involved in her radical political commitment, but she pretty much followed her husband’s political approach to radical politics.

Then there was Halliwell, a Russian History graduate student at Columbia. Halliwell dressed in a bohemian-proletarian way and worked with National SDS organizers and New York Regional SDS Office people. He liked to attend National SDS conferences and international student radical conferences. But he was too elitist to do any Columbia SDS organizing at his own school, except to chair an SDS general assembly meeting once or twice. Despite his ties to National and Regional SDS, he never once went into a Columbia dormitory to canvass Columbia students and speak to dormitory residents about New Left politics or about why they should join SDS. (By the 1990s, Halliwell was an executive at Citibank).

Despite their political elitism and political weaknesses, however, Evansohn, the Schneiders and Halliwell were all pleasant people, personally. They also all seemed to have far more integrity and more of a commitment to the politics of liberation than either the non-Columbia SDS people around campus or the faculty members of Columbia.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1967--Part 9

The final course I took during the second term of my sophomore year that was significant to me was entitled “American Foreign Policy II.” It was taught by Columbia University Professor of Government Schilling, a “balance of power man” who supported the U.S. military escalation in Viet Nam. He was anti-communist, anti-radical and anti-Soviet in his views. On an intellectual level, though, he found it entertaining to debate foreign policy issues in his class with leftist anti-war students like me.

The course met in a classroom at Columbia’s Law School, not inside Hamilton Hall like my other government courses did. After attending a few class sessions, participating in a few class discussions and learning how pro-Pentagon Professor Schilling was in his politics, I started to cut most of the remaining classes. But to pass Schilling’s course, I was expected to write a term paper on a foreign policy-related issue. In late February 1967, I chose the topic of my term paper: “The Military-Industrial Complex’s Role In Determining U.S. Foreign Policy.”

After the PL-led students stopped CIA recruiting in early February, political activity on campus remained at a high level. Tony and his PL followers came to the next Columbia SDS general assembly meeting with a proposal for Columbia SDS to begin an anti-ranking petition campaign at Columbia.

In early 1967, the Columbia Administration was mailing the class ranks of each of its 2S-deferred Columbia students to local draft boards in order to help the U.S. war machine determine, by means of class ranking, which students should be drafted first in case LBJ declared a “national emergency.” Students whose class ranking showed them to be less efficient than higher-ranking students would be more likely to be denied deferments by the U.S. Selective Service System [SSS], as a result of the Columbia Administration’s complicity with the SSS.

After PL proposed a spring term campaign to demand that the Columbia Administration stop sending class ranking information to U.S. draft boards, the New Left faction within Columbia SDS started to panic. PL—not Columbia and Barnard New Leftists—seemed to be the ones who were setting the spring agenda for Columbia SDS, and PL people were starting to dominate Columbia SDS general assembly meeting debates, in a way that made students feel that SDS wasn’t really a New Leftist political entity.

John, Harvey and Josh decided to hold a meeting at Teddy’s conveniently-located West 115th St. and Amsterdam Ave. apartment for non-PL people who were most active in Columbia SDS to attend. At the meeting, which Harvey and John dominated, we all attempted to define, more clearly, in what ways our approach to politics was different than PL’s approach to politics.

We concluded that, yes, PL’s idea for beginning a campaign to end class-ranking at Columbia was politically sound, but not just because ending class-ranking was morally justified or a good way to fight the U.S. war machine while on campus. An anti-class-ranking campaign was also seen by New Left activists within SDS as a vehicle for raising mass radical consciousness about the “true nature of the U.S. university” and their “real state of unfreedom” and “political powerlessness” and to turn people on to a New Left lifestyle and political orientation. At the meeting, Teddy also argued that PL’s conception of Revolution was “fundamentally Old Left, not New Left” and that our caucus represented people who were committed to a “life-style revolution,” unlike PL, which was only interested in obtaining political power for an authoritarian sect, by manipulation.

The New Left faction of Columbia SDS started to meet publicly every Friday afternoon in Earl Hall as a steering committee group which was open to all SDS members, including PL people. When necessary, though, informal meetings between SDS general assembly meetings would be held at Teddy’s apartment or someone else’s apartment. This was done in order to avoid the disruptive presence of PL fraction people. PL people at this time would often tie-up SDS general assembly meetings in long, irrelevant, non-productive, sectarian debates which tended to undercut SDS’s capacity to effectively engage in mass campus organizing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1967--Part 8

Another reason why SDS people voted not to join the PL-led anti-CIA sit-in was that the Columbia Administration had vowed to discipline any student involved in stopping recruiting. It seemed foolish to risk being disciplined when our numbers were still so small.

The Columbia SDS dorm lobby meetings that evening and during the next few weeks went well. At the meeting in Furnald Hall’s lobby a good crowd of white liberal and white conservative dorm residents passed in and out of the lobby meeting, during the two hours it lasted, as did about 15 Columbia SDS people. When one liberal Columbia student argued that Viet Nam was an isolated case of U.S. foreign policy immorality, Harvey became angry and replied:

“What about Iran in 1953? What about Guatemala in 1954? It’s not just a question of Viet Nam. It’s a question of the U.S. government’s whole immoral foreign policy. And it’s not a question of free speech when it comes to the CIA being allowed to recruit on campus. The CIA is a criminal organization. Just like the KKK is a criminal organization. It not only has no right to recruit. It has no right to exist!”

Josh and Teddy were also there to argue effectively a New Left political line with much moral fervor and enthusiasm. Josh had been unanimously elected Columbia SDS vice-chairman because he was the only Columbia College senior interested in being Columbia SDS vice-chairman at that time and because he had no political enemies in Columbia leftist circles, as a result of his personable nature and non-rigid political style. John had been unanimously elected Columbia SDS chairman because he was the driving force behind the founding of the chapter, in addition to Dave, and because Dave had already graduated from Columbia College in 1966.

Classes for the second term of my sophomore year started. I ended my 1 ½ year involvement with the Columbia Citizenship Council’s P.A.C.T. because of my conclusion that it was politically ineffectual, too reformist, not radical enough and too white paternalistic. The afternoon and evening time I had devoted to P.A.C.T. work was now free for me to engage in more Columbia SDS organizing activity.

I kept writing new folk songs each month, but I no longer even considered writing plays and short fiction anymore. I was too busy interacting with real people within a large community of leftists, reaching out to new people with my revolutionary message and attempting to actualize my fantasies in real life to spend much time isolated in my room, pumping out a new play or novel. I began to see fictional writing, like reading, as a defense mechanism for really being involved with people and as a poor political substitute for really attempting to change the world by activism.

Three classes I took in Spring 1967 were significant to me because of the independent research they led me to engage in.

For my second term of “Europe 1870 To The Present” course, I wrote a long term paper on the European anti-war movement during World War I, which led me to read about the Second International’s failure to prevent World I and to read about how both pacifists and socialists continued to resist World War I after it began. I studied the Zimmerwald Conference of 1915 and both Rosa Luxemburg’s and Lenin’s writings of the World War I years.

The graduate student-teaching assistant assigned to mark the term paper trashed the paper on both political grounds and stylistic grounds. But my World War I resistance research seemed connected to my anti-war activism and seemed quite relevant to all the issues which were being discussed by 60s activists who wished to stop the Viet Nam war machine.

For my second term of Professor Kesselman’s “Reflections In Politics Since 1914” course, I wrote a long term paper on “The Role of German Universities in Nazi Germany,” in which I examined how German universities acted as “business-as-usual” instruments of Nazi totalitarianism during the Third Reich. I noted in what respects U.S. universities were fulfilling similar ideological and training functions during the Viet Nam War. By 1967, I felt the U.S. military machine’s operation in Viet Nam was comparable to the Nazi military machine’s activities during World War II. I also assumed the U.S. ruling class, like the German ruling class, would tend to drift towards more domestic fascism, in order to stifle mass resistance to its policies. Readings for this course included Behemoth by Franz Neumann, which was a sociological study of Nazi Germany, as well as some of Hitler’s speeches, Bullock’s biography of Hitler and Stalin’s Foundations of Leninism work.

What was also interesting about the Spring 1967 term of Kesselman’s class was that three Columbia SDS activists, in addition to me, had enrolled in the same course: Harvey, Teddy and a sophomore activist named Mark. After attending the first few class sessions, Harvey and Teddy mostly cut classes for the rest of the term. On the few occasions Teddy did appear, he usually walked in about one-half hour late at 11:30 a.m., with a big smile on his face. Mark attended class a few more times than Teddy, but also soon lost interest in the classroom sessions. After I saw that Harvey, Teddy and Mark were no longer coming to class to dominate the discussion in a collective way, challenging Kesselman’s social democratic political line and historical interpretations with arguments that Kesselman couldn’t answer, I also stopped going to class.

On the first day of class, after Kesselman had handed out the reading list, Harvey had raised his hand and asked: “Why isn’t Trotsky’s book on the rise of fascism included on the reading list?”
Kesselman looked uncomfortable and mumbled something about it not being an important work. Harvey then lectured Kesselman in his super-intellectual way, with arguments concisely and clearly laid out in order, for a few minutes. Teddy, Mark and I, and some of the other students, started to giggle, because Harvey appeared to already know more about the course’s subject than Professor Kesselman did. After hearing Harvey talk some more during the rest of the period, it became obvious that he was a more interesting, scholarly and knowledgeable lecturer on the subject than the Columbia professor.

It was in Kesselman’s class that I first noticed Mark as more than just somebody who looked vaguely familiar because he was some sort of a leftist. In early 1967, he had a brownish beard. He was around 6 feet tall and he dressed proletarian and bohemian. He wasn’t especially articulate in class compared to Harvey or Teddy. But Mark liked to talk in class when he showed up and he used his class talking time to bring current political issues into the discussion. In cold weather, Mark usually wore a green coat and a stocking cap.

Before or after Kesselman’s class sessions, Mark and I didn’t speak too much or too deeply. I found Teddy friendlier than Mark. Mark, unlike Teddy, never seemed to speak to people in a non-ambiguous way. He seemed harder to get to know than Teddy. Mark also wasn’t that interested in talking with me about New Left politics.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1967--Part 7

At the meeting in the CUSC office, John, Josh, Linda, Teddy, Ted, Tony, myself and others were in attendance. We talked about what kind of leaflet we would hand out and distribute around campus in the days prior to the anti-CIA demonstration. People agreed to leaflet and post leaflets around campus at specific times and places. PL leader Tony agreed to type the stencil and mimeograph the 1,000 leaflets we required, even though he still argued that the leaflet should announce that the CIA would be “kicked off campus by Columbia SDS,” not just picketed.

But the leaflets that Tony ran off reflected PL politics, not what everyone else in the Columbia SDS planning meeting had agreed the leaflet should say. So Ted had to end up typing up a new stencil and running off a bunch of new leaflets, so that the anti-CIA demonstration would accurately reflect New Left, not PL, politics.

Tony was a humorless, emotionally dead grad student at Columbia Teachers College, whose specialty was Chinese history and dogmatically applying the thoughts of Chairman Mao to U.S. 1960s political reality. But he was a hard worker and he was extremely dedicated, as were most of the other Progressive Labor Party people who operated as a fraction within Columbia SDS at that time and sought to gain control of the organization. Eliezer laughingly described how Tony had tried to recruit him into PL:

“He invited me to his apartment. After we arrived there, he started to play me a phonograph record of somebody reading the Communist Manifesto. Then, after the record was played, he asked me if I had any questions.”

In his dorm room, Eliezer and I gossiped about how the PL-types seemed less democratic and less emotionally open in their personalities and ways of relating than the New Left SDS types. We also joked about what Teddy used to call “the PL personality.”

After Ted had printed up the new anti-CIA leaflets and given them to Teddy, I was visited in my dorm room at Furnald Hall for the first time by Teddy. He had brought some leaflets for me to distribute around campus and in the dormitories. It was the first time I spoke with Teddy at length, on a one-to-one basis. Teddy immediately charmed me. I immediately felt even more love for him than for Ted. Teddy carried his leaflets and school books and notebooks around in a small knapsack/backpack, when everyone else at Columbia and Barnard was still using briefcases and attache’ cases. He wore a stocking-type cap in winter.

I can’t recall the specifics of my first lengthy conversation with Teddy. But he immediately seemed like the kind of guy with whom you could talk about more than New Left politics. Eliezer and I agreed that Teddy seemed Christ-like in many ways.

Teddy had a variety of intellectual interests. He was much more of an intellectual, trendy, faddist and hippie than a political activist. Politically, he saw himself as an anarchist, not a communist or Marxist-Leninist, in 1967.

Teddy was a very spiritual person. He argued that “Politics should be an instrument of morality, not an instrument of domination.” His personality and appearance were androgynous and gentle, not macho. He majored in religion and was so intellectually eclectic that he was almost as much into the Buddha as he was into Marxism. Teddy also liked to talk about sex and “chicks” a lot in a non-macho, realistic way, and considered himself a follower of Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse. He often tended to be more of a sexual determinist than an economic or sociological determinist when he explained the inter-personal and political behavior of people.

In talking at length with Teddy, you were able to receive capsule summaries of the many books in various fields that Teddy had read over the years. “As Reich says in The Function of Orgasm, etc.” or “As Marcuse says in Eros and Civilization, etc.” or “As Buddha says, etc.” or “As Che Guevara says, etc.” or “As Ho Chi Minh wrote, etc.” was the kind of talk Teddy was good at sprinkling his conversation with.

I put leaflets all around the dormitories and in school buildings and under dormitory doors. The night before the CIA recruiter was to come, I went with Eliezer to John’s West 108th St. apartment to help make anti-CIA picket signs for a few hours at a picket sign-making party. In the apartment, Dave, John, Teddy, Josh, Linda, Ted and other SDS people were drinking beer in-between using magic markers to write on the oak tag that was to be used for the picket signs. Rock music played in the background and, as people became more drunk, it really did begin to turn into a picket sign-making party. Being still new to most of the SDS people there, though, Eliezer and I found that nobody was too into talking with us. So we left the party early.

At 9 a.m. the next morning, I joined a picket line of about 20 people outside Dodge Hall. John led the chanting, as we marched around in the freezing February morning.

“CIA must go! CIA must go! CIA must go!”

To introduce some variety in the chanting, John suddenly started to chant, in a softer voice, “Lumumba lives! Lumumba lives! Lumumba lives!”

By late morning, the picket line had grown to about 75 people, a much smaller group than we had hoped for. Despite our January publicity, many Columbia and Barnard leftists had not heard about the scheduled anti-CIA demonstration because they hadn’t been around campus during January.

Shortly after Columbia SDS began picketing Dodge Hall, the PL fraction within SDS—plus a few other impatient SDS people—went inside Dodge Hall and sat down in front of the recruiting office. The CIA representative was effectively stopped from recruiting for the day. The New Left faction picketed outside for awhile. Then, we went to the basement floor of Dodge Hall and held a meeting to decide whether Columbia SDS, as a whole, should join the 18 PL-led students who were already sitting-in and stopping CIA recruitment.

Dave, John, Josh, Harvey, Lew, Ted and Teddy all argued against going upstairs to join the PL-led sit-in, as did most of the other students who spoke.

“If we all go upstairs and sit-in, the rest of the campus won’t understand why we’re stopping recruiting. The rest of the campus still thinks it’s a question of free speech. And that SDS is preventing free speech if we stop CIA recruitment today. PL doesn’t care about building a mass movement of students. They think all students are `bourgeois’ and that only workers matter. So they don’t worry about alienating the mass of students by their tactics.

“Yet there are plenty of Columbia students out there, who aren’t here now—but who will be here next time in a much larger demonstration—who can be organized. But only if we don’t alienate them now, by letting PL determine our campus strategy,” Dave argued.

Everybody supported this argument and we went back outside to picket some more, and then held a short rally.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1967--Part 6

In January 1967, Columbia SDS people learned that the CIA was returning to Columbia’s campus to once again recruit students during the first week of the Spring 1967 term. A meeting was held in Professor of History Kaplow’s high-rise apartment which his wife, Susan Kaplow (who was in both PL and SDS), John, Lew, Ted, Teddy, Harvey, Josh, myself, Tony of PL and a few others attended. In Professor Kaplow’s apartment, we discussed whether or not Columbia SDS should stop CIA recruitment. We also discussed possible tactics we could use to mobilize students to attend the anti-CIA protest demonstration.

Led by Tony, the PL faction at the meeting pushed for the political position that “The CIA should be kicked off the campus by students” and not just peacefully picketed by Columbia SDS. The non-PL New Leftists, however, collectively felt that our politically liberal mass base at Columbia and Barnard was still not radicalized enough to understand why the CIA should be driven off campus. Consequently, we decided to just call for a peaceful picket of CIA recruitment, in order not to turn-off the mass of potentially radical left-liberal students whom we wished to eventually recruit.

At the meeting we discussed possible ways of radicalizing more students at Columbia and Barnard.

“If we show students the gap between social potentiality and social actuality, they’ll get involved in Columbia SDS,” John asserted.

“I think the key thing to do to radicalize Columbia students is to show them that their liberal goals actually can be achieved only through political radicalism. And not through liberal politics,” I stated.

When we discussed possible ways to mobilize students to confront the CIA recruiter, I suggested we hold SDS dorm lobby meetings at which individual Columbia professors would be featured as guest speakers.

“Many more students might come to an SDS dorm lobby meeting if we have a Columbia professor there as a drawing card, than if it’s just SDS people speaking,” I said with a twinkle in my eye.

Lew immediately saw the virtue of this idea. It was agreed that I would spend part of January telephoning professors and setting up these SDS dormitory lobby meetings.

The first time I noticed Lew, when I was a freshman, he reminded me of Mario Savio in his physical appearance. Lew was probably the tallest white leftist intellectual around the Columbia campus in the 1960s. His 6’3”-plus height always made him quite noticeable at campus demonstrations. His hair was generally more longish than short. He was always clean-shaven, even when most other Columbia SDS men were growing mustaches and beards.

Lew’s mother was apparently an Old Leftist of some sort who became a literary editor of The Nation magazine and who lived in an Upper West Side apartment. She had remarried a published leftist novelist and then apparently given birth to Lew’s younger half-brother, who was to become a published novelist at a very young age.

After attending college for a time in Canada, Lew had moved back to the Upper West Side and enrolled at Columbia. He was a junior at Columbia College during the 1966-67 academic year. He was open about wanting to be a writer and he seemed to know more than anybody else, except Harvey, about the literary left and small intellectual magazine publishing scene. But he didn’t reveal to most other leftist students at Columbia either his mother’s Nation magazine connection or his stepfather’s prominence in U.S. left literary circles. In the academic year before Columbia SDS was re-organized as a mass-based group, Lew had coordinated a faculty read-in against the war in Viet Nam.

I reserved Furnald Hall dorm lobby space for the first meeting and “booked” a Columbia professor for this meeting and other professors for meetings in other dormitory lobbies. Most of the professors I telephoned were paranoid about SDS, but were flattered to hear that I felt dormitory residents would be interested in hearing them speak about U.S. foreign policy. Among the professors who were unwilling to speak against the war in the dormitory lobbies was Columbia Professor of Sociology Silver.

Professor Melman had an answering machine, which few other people possessed in the 1960s. He soon called me back and enthusiastically agreed to speak at an SDS dorm lobby meeting. Professor of Sociology Dibble also quickly agreed to speak out. Professor of Sociology Martin, who was a dogmatic social democrat, only reluctantly agreed to speak out against the war. Another social democrat, Professor Kesselman, was unwilling to speak out against the war in an SDS dorm lobby meeting, even though I was enrolled in one of his classes.

I also attempted to book an English professor named Hovde. Hovde initially refused to appear because “Lewis told me he was a communist” and “Lewis is a Columbia SDS leader.” But after I managed to reassure Hovde that speaking to Columbia students about the war in their dormitory didn’t mean he was supporting communism, he, too, agreed to be featured in a Columbia SDS dormitory lobby meeting.

In figuring out which professors to call and figuring out how to respond to professor questions about SDS’s goals, I consulted Harvey by phone a number of times. On the telephone, Harvey’s voice always sounded very earnest, intellectually confident, strong and seductive. With an affectionate giggle after he hung his dorm room phone up, following a conversation with Harvey, Ted once said the following to me: “He always sounds like he’s trying to seduce me.” The attraction of Harvey’s voice to me was based on the emotionally intense way he spoke about his politics. His personality had no effeminate qualities. The emotional intensity of Harvey’s voice was the quality that probably caused Ted to feel it was seductive.

A second meeting was held in the W. 115th St. office of the Columbia University Student Council [CUSC], a week before the CIA recruiter was to return to the campus. The head of the CUSC was some kind of a leftist, so John always had the key to the CUSC office. John was always able to use the student government’s stencils, reams of paper, phones and mimeograph machine for Columbia SDS purposes and as a meeting place whenever required.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1966--Part 5

December 1966 flowed into the Christmas break, which I spent back in Queens in my parents’ apartment doing assigned term papers, watching news shows, political interviews and football games on TV and practicing guitar in my room. By January 1967, I had read John Gerassi’s The Great Fear in Latin America, was getting more interested in Latin America and could argue against the immorality of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America as well as I could argue against U.S. war policy in Viet Nam. I also spent much time listening over and over again to Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home album, Dylan’s first album and his The Times They Are A-Changin’ album, as well as the Phil Ochs In Concert album.

I wrote two more love songs for Beth, “The Princess of the Park” and “My Name Is Ishmael” to go along with a love letter I wrote her. Having re-read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick for an American literature course, I identified with Ishmael-Melville quite strongly and, increasingly, was beginning to see myself as an “isolato” like Ishmael. I eventually met Beth in Barnard’s Brooks Hall one evening and dated her and wondered whether we’d be happy together as lovers.

Beth was an easygoing and undemanding beauty, but she wasn’t interested in New Left politics. Although I was wild about her, she refused to take my love for her seriously.
“You still hardly know me in more than a casual way. We can’t sustain a relationship with each other if your love for me is just based on a fantasized image of me. And not on how I really am,” she said to me one cold winter night, before we kissed each other goodnight.

As I walked back to my Furnald Hall dorm room, I wondered whether Beth was right. Insofar as I was an apparently upwardly-mobile Columbia student with artistic inclinations who found her beautiful, I could hold Beth’s interest. But insofar as I was a New Left activist who felt spiritually alienated from white upper-middle-class life, I was not on the same wavelength as her. So I didn’t continue to pursue Beth. But my heart still jumped whenever we bumped into each other during the next few years around the Upper West Side.

My songwriting around this time also reflected my involvement in opposing both the CIA and Columbia’s complicity with the U.S. military. I wrote a song entitled “The CIA,” which contained the following lyrics:

It’s coming to bring you joy
It wants little girls and boys.
Come work with me
In secrecy
The trench-coated spook he cries…."

I also wrote a folk song entitled “Columbia,” which included the following lyrics:

Secret research
You’d best not snitch
At Hudson Labs
Maybe some bombs?
For electronic war
Design lasers
And “humanize” and “civilize”
With “reason as your tool.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1966--Part 4

I first met Josh and Linda at one of these Columbia SDS organizational meetings in Earl Hall. At the meeting, they both stated that they were Marxist-Leninists.

Josh had grown up in Queens. During his early years at Columbia, he had befriended a Columbia College classmate from Brooklyn named Harvey, who had been active in Brooklyn CORE before joining the Progressive Labor Party as a freshman. As underclassmen, both Harvey and Josh had apparently become acquainted with an Old Left ex-Communist Party member named Collins. Collins was a gay man who apparently influenced Josh and Harvey politically and intellectually more than any of their Columbia College professors. By the time Josh and Harvey were seniors, Harvey was no longer in PL and both Josh and Harvey were quite intellectually sophisticated Marxist-Leninists. Harvey, in particular, seemed to be the most widely-read and intellectually sophisticated guy in the whole school. He could concisely answer any intellectual question you might have about current and past social and political reality.

Linda had had a brief love affair with Teddy, and then fallen in love with Josh. Josh had been quite lonely before he and Linda found each other. Both Josh and Linda were much more intellectual and emotionally mature than most of the other students around Columbia and Barnard in Fall 1966. Josh was friendlier and more outgoing than Linda.

Linda seemed very devoted to Josh and lived with him. Josh and Linda walked around the Upper West Side as an inseparable couple most of the time. Linda rarely spoke politically at the male-dominated SDS chapter meetings and steering committee meetings. But when she did speak, she usually echoed Josh’s political views.

I also first met JJ in December 1966, when JJ was still in the Progressive Labor Party. JJ was from a wealthy Old Left family in Connecticut and had attended some exclusive private school before entering Columbia the same term I entered. Politically, JJ was a doctrinaire, dogmatic, left-sectarian Maoist, who was unable to convince left-liberal students of the correctness of his views through intellectual discussion and debate.

JJ’s voice was a monotonic caricature of a “proletarian” accent that lacked warmth when he spoke about radical politics. JJ also lacked warmth in relation to most men. He dressed like a hippie-bohemian, but in a Che Guevarist way, had longish hair and usually was bearded. He had a male macho personality, but Barnard women found JJ very attractive physically and sexually. Unlike most of his PL comrades, JJ was a sexually aggressive guy who enjoyed casual sex and sleeping around with many different women.

In the early 1960s, PL attracted many bohemian red diaper babies like JJ who found the Communist Party too politically conservative and socially straight and repressed. By 1966, however, grass, bohemianism and sexual promiscuity were no longer tolerated in PL. PL leaders claimed that grass, sexual promiscuity and a bohemian lifestyle alienated straight working-class people. By 1967, everyone in PL would be culturally and sexually straight, repressed and conventionally middle-class. In 1967, JJ would no longer be in PL.

Another reason for JJ’s exit from PL was that PL was too politically conservative for him. By 1967, JJ would be ready to begin the armed struggle in the U.S. immediately, in order to materially support the National Liberation Front [NLF] in Viet Nam by “bringing the war home” and opening a second front against U.S. imperialism within the United States. PL would still just favor sending student radicals into factories and into the U.S. military to just try to disrupt the System—without planting any bombs in the bathrooms of U.S. corporate office skyscrapers or at U.S. draft boards, military recruitment centers, ROTC campus buildings and U.S. military installations.

In December 1966, JJ spoke in a long-winded way at meetings and never listened to the arguments raised by people whose political positions were different than his. But he was unable to persuade anybody that his strategy of disrupting classes at Columbia University until the Viet Nam War ended was the best strategy for building a radical student movement.

When I first heard JJ go on and on with his version of PL’s current line in late 1966, I thought to myself: “Oh, God! If JJ is what radical change means, the new society is really going to be dictatorial and loveless, not democratic, liberating and loving.” But as I got to know JJ better over the next few years, I began to like him personally and become less paranoid about what his notion of revolution was all about.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1966--Part 3

The rest of November and December was filled with meetings with other newly-recruited Columbia SDS people. The meetings took place in Earl Hall or in lounges in John Jay Hall. At these Columbia SDS organizational meetings, I started to talk at length for the first time with many Columbia and Barnard leftists who I hadn’t met before.

The junior, senior and graduate student male white radicals tended to dominate the discussion at these informal SDS organizational meetings. At one meeting in the basement lounge of John Jay Hall, definite political differences appeared between a non-Marxist-Leninist named Peter Friedland and most of the other white radicals, who all called themselves Marxist-Leninists.

Initially, I felt that Friedland made some good points about the need for Columbia SDS to be “New Left” and not “Old Left” in style and politics. He felt it was useless to try to build a radical student movement at Columbia using “Marxist-Leninist jargon and Marxist-Leninist crap,” which would confuse people about the sincerity of the SDS desire to establish a participatory democracy in the U.S. I also felt that if Columbia SDS turned into just another Marxist-Leninist sect, like the Progressive Labor Party, it would go nowhere politically. So my personal position in December 1966 was “let’s just unite around specific issues and actions we all support, and not get bogged down in questions of exact ideology.”

As I got to know the Marxist-Leninists in Columbia SDS more, however, I tended to move politically into their faction. They seemed to be the most dedicated, most intellectual and most politically experienced and knowledgeable white people on Columbia’s campus. Ted, for instance, saw himself as a Marxist-Leninist and always seemed to make the most sense politically at Columbia during this period.

John had read about Guatemalan guerrillas. We followed their example in our initial Columbia SDS organizational meetings. According to John, when a Guatemalan guerrilla band is formed, each individual volunteer tells the other guerrillas about his or her life and the reasons why he or she decided to join the liberation movement. By the time every guerrilla volunteer has spoken, everyone realizes how similar their lives of oppression have been and how the source of their individual suffering is, therefore, sociological, not individual or psychological. Given this reality, the guerrilla band immediately realizes that since individual oppression is collectively shared by others, the collective oppression can be ended only by collective resistance and collective, not individual, action. Feminist consciousness-raising groups later also utilized the Guatemalan guerrilla group model to recruit women into the late 1960s women’s liberation movement.

New Columbia SDS recruits quickly learned that we all shared a sense of political powerlessness, anti-war and anti-draft rage and a militant anti-racist and anti-capitalist value-structure. We also all wanted to build a radically new world and new social order.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1966--Part 2

At the rally, John spoke and emphasized that what students at Columbia now wanted was more student power over University policy decisions and genuine student involvement in Columbia University decision-making. Mike Klare of the ICV, although still not interested in building a Columbia SDS chapter, also spoke at the rally. He criticized Columbia for accepting research contracts from the Department of Defense and drew the distinction between the Movement approach to politics and social change and the Columbia Administration’s approach:

‘We can attend yet another committee meeting. And speak to yet another bureaucrat. And wait for yet another dean. And attend yet another bureaucratic meeting. And we still won’t get any results. That’s the Administration’s approach. That’s the kind of politics they want us to be involved with.

“But what about the Movement? We do things differently in the Movement. In the Movement, we avoid all the bureaucratic run-around. That’s why the Movement is going into Low Library today.”

As the 300 of us marched up the steps of Low Library to confront Kirk, I was ready to join in a sit-in inside the administration building. I was fed up with U.S. foreign policy, fed up with U.S. racism, fed up with the endless mass murder in Viet Nam and fed up with the Columbia University Administration’s failure to speak out against all this and its whole “business as usual” attitude. It looked like many of the other anti-war students who had been fruitlessly protesting the bombing of Viet Nam for over 1 ½ years also shared my sense of frustration and willingness to sit-in. Earlier in the fall, Savio and other FSM people had tried to stop military recruitment on campus at Berkeley and there had been some kind of confrontation with police out there again. If something was happening politically at Berkeley again, it was only natural that many of us would feel that the time was now ripe for something to happen at Columbia that was equally militant.

We marched into Low Library and gathered in the Low Library rotunda. Kirk uneasily read a statement in which he argued that Columbia University should make no value judgments and take no political positions regarding U.S. government policy. Therefore, organizations like the CIA would continue to have the right to recruit on campus.

After he read his statement, Dave, John, Mike Klare, Lew and some of the other Movement “heavies” at Columbia started to throw questions at Kirk. Students hissed in response to Kirk’s initial answers. Kirk quickly retreated to his Low Library office for another appointment, before students felt the discussion should be terminated.

Grayson Kirk was a former Columbia University Professor of Government in his ‘60s, who was now used to spending more time sitting on the corporate boards of companies like IBM and Socony-Mobil Oil and elite foreign policy-making institutions like the Council on Foreign Relations, than in talking with Columbia College students. When flustered, Kirk would redden in the face and start to speak with a slight stutter.

During the 1950s, Columbia President Kirk had fired a few Columbia professors who were accused of being Communist Party members. He had also written that Columbia University would not knowingly hire a communist intellectual to teach on its faculty. In 1954, Kirk had worked with the CIA’s “cultural freedom congress” campaign which linked the celebration of Columbia’s 200th anniversary to the CIA’s 1950s anti-communist Cold War propaganda campaign. In 1954 or 1955, Kirk had given an honorary degree to his friend Allen Dulles, the CIA Director in the 1950s. Personally acquainted with former Columbia University President Eisenhower and those U.S. ruling class officials who sat on the Columbia board of trustees, like New York Times publisher Sulzberger and CBS board chairman William Paley, Kirk identified himself totally with the U.S. Establishment.

After Kirk left the rotunda, some of the anti-war students began to laugh. John had a big smile on his face. Dave was the first activist to speak to the rest of us:

“Those are his values. But we have different values. And if we want Columbia University policy to reflect our values, we’re going to have to build a Movement here that fights for student power and for participatory democracy at Columbia. And that’s why we have to build a Columbia SDS chapter.”

There was more discussion, and the anti-war students were enthusiastic about attempting to build a Columbia SDS chapter which would fight the Columbia Administration on a multi-issue basis, attempt to win student power at Columbia and work to build a mass-based radical student movement in the United States. A time for follow-up meetings was agreed upon and we broke up for the day. There was a big headlined article on the student left’s confrontation with Kirk in the Columbia student newspaper Spectator, the next day. My feeling was that John and Dave’s Columbia SDS chapter-building approach seemed more dynamic than the Independent Committee on Viet Nam’s more stagnant approach.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Into Columbia SDS, 1966--Part 1

November 1966 was also the month that, along with Ted and most other ICV activists, I became a Columbia SDS activist.

During my freshman year, I had seen John around campus anti-war rallies, often talking with a tall guy named Lew. And during a late September 1966 Wollman Auditorium meeting, I had heard John, in a panel discussion, explain why Columbia students should get into political activism:

“First you get yourself a Barnard chick. Then you look for something worthwhile to get involved in and you join the Movement.”

John had provoked hisses from his mostly freshman audience later in the panel discussion when he said:

“The best writers are always leftists. The best poets are always leftists, like Allen Ginsberg. People who are right-wing politically can’t create good literature or good poetry.”

John was a thin senior guy of average height. He wore glasses and his longish hair was beginning to recede. His father had been a conservative Republican mayor of New Rochelle.

John had spent an extra year doing academic work in London, which, according to Ted, was “one reason he’s so smart.” Along with Dave, John was the activist most responsible for starting an SDS chapter at Columbia.

John lived with a Barnard woman a few years younger than him, named Joan, in his West 108th St. apartment. Joan appeared devoted to John and leftist in her politics, and she usually dressed in a bohemian way. But Joan never became involved in a day-to-day way in campus political organizing like John did. She wasn’t socialized to feel comfortable participating in the 1960s leftist student meetings at Columbia. These meetings tended to be male chauvinist in their form, so Barnard women usually found it difficult to participate in the political discussion as intellectual equals.

In 1965, John had been involved in the anti-war student disruption of the Columbia Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps [NROTC] awards ceremony. As a result of this protest, which was busted up by the Columbia Administration with the aid of New York City police, John had received a disciplinary warning letter from Columbia College Dean Truman. On the kitchen wall of his West 108th St. apartment, John had taped up this letter from the Dean, in the same way that doctors tape up their medical school diplomas on their office walls.

Prior to founding the Columbia SDS chapter with Dave, John had been involved in Columbia student government politics and had also attempted to radicalize National Student Association [NSA] members all around the United States. John had also worked with National SDS people and been involved in some of the New Left student activists’ arguments with Michael Harrington and the League for Industrial Democracy [LID] people over the Social Democrats’ desire to impose a red-baiting, anti-communist tradition of political organizing on the younger New Leftists.

In early November 1966, John took the initiative on campus when it was learned that the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] was coming to recruit students in Dodge Hall. Columbia SDS sponsored a sundial rally to protest the CIA’s presence on campus and demanded that the Columbia Administration not allow the CIA to use university facilities to recruit.

Speakers at the sundial during a lunch hour rally explained what the CIA had already done around the world prior to 1966: overthrown the democratically-elected government of Iran in 1953, overthrown the democratically-elected government of Guatemala in 1954, planned the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 and helped set up the Diem dictatorship in Viet Nam in the 1950s, which led to the 1960s U.S. military escalation in Viet Nam. Then around 100 of us marched into the lobby outside of Dodge Hall’s recruitment office and stayed there until CIA recruiting was cancelled by the Columbia Administration.

The following day, a letter was sent to Columbia University President Grayson Kirk, asking for a meeting to discuss university policy on CIA recruitment and university relations to the U.S. government. Later in the month, another rally was held at the sundial, prior to confronting Columbia University President Kirk in the Low Library administration building. Kirk appeared to feel he had to meet with the 300 Columbia and Barnard anti-war students who were rallying, in order to avert a possible Low Library sit-in.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Enter Ted Gold, 1966--Part 3

I started to go down to the Greenwich Village area more often in Fall 1966 on weekend evenings to listen to other folksingers. The Pinewoods Folk Club was very active at this time and it sponsored cheap Friday night folk music events in churches and at NYU’s Loeb Student Center in Washington Square.

I continued to practice guitar and folk songs and write more folk songs in my dorm room, as a form of relaxation, self-expression and emotional release. I no longer wrote plays and my creative writing was limited to folk songwriting. Yet I still attempted to interest Columbia University Professor of Dramatic Literature Bentley in looking over my A Ball In A Basket and The Barrier plays, but he was too busy.

At this time, I wrote a song called “Mr. John,” which expressed my desire to break out of my anonymous, alienated, routinized student life into the more exciting world of folk music concert performer circles. And I wrote a song called “Girl With the Scarf” for Beth, which began with the following lyrics:

Girl with the scarf
I knew you from the start
‘Cause your eyes echoed mine in your search…

(Women college students didn’t object to being called “girls” or “chicks” at the time I wrote this song).

I also wrote a love song for Nancy which contained the following lyrics:

You’ve got such long blond hair
And a mind so rare
And the words you utter
Come through so clear
And I did realize
When you sat so near
That my heart was warning:
`Look out! Beware!’

I bought more guitar strings, a harmonica, a guitar strap, a new capo and a few songbooks at a music store on West 96th St., between Broadway and West End Ave. A friendly guy worked there who encouraged me in my musical ambitions. I mistakenly assumed that, with the songs I had already written, I was, instantly, going to be invited to cut a folk music record which would enable me to escape from the whole Columbia academic scene of bullshit, overnight. But I still lacked the contacts required to make that kind of jump into the U.S. music business and entertainment industry, as well as, perhaps, the required talent.

November 1966 came. I traveled out to Evanston, Illinois by car with my mother, father and sister to attend my first cousin’s Bar Mitzvah reception at the Hotel Orrington in downtown Evanston.

My mother had grown up in poverty in Chicago during the Great Depression. Her father, William Snitovsky, was a Russian-born ice delivery truck driver who worked on an irregular basis during the 1930s. In the late 1940s, he found a union job at the Chicago Tribune, loading newspapers onto delivery trucks between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. each night. He kept this job until the sickness of old age made it impossible for him to work anymore by the late 1960s.

Her mother, Jenny, was an Orthodox Jewish immigrant from Lithuania who had arrived in the States a few months after the Titanic sank. In Fall 1966 my mother’s sister, an elementary schoolteacher, was living in an old house in Skokie, Illinois. She had previously lived near Wrigley Field in Chicago. My aunt’s husband was a Bell & Howell factory worker.

I explored Evanston and Northwestern University’s campus when I wasn’t attending my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah events that weekend. I also spent some time in my family’s hotel room in Evanston reading for my political science course from an anthology of Lenin’s writings. It was in this hotel room in Evanston that I first read Lenin’s Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism work that he wrote during World War I.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Columbia SDS Memories Revisited: Enter Ted Gold, 1966--Part 2

Around the time I met Ted, I found myself feeling drawn to Beth. Beth worked as a student volunteer group leader in P.A.C.T. on the same afternoon that Nancy, Harry and I did. She was a senior at Barnard and was a dark-haired beauty. She was less socially-concerned and politically radical than Pat had been, but she had a gentle, tender, sweet, soft-spoken personality. Beth was majoring in Philosophy and her father was some administrator or doctor in the mental health field.

Near the end of October 1966, P.A.C.T. held a party in Juan’s W. 104th St. apartment which was attended by about fifty Barnard and Columbia students who came in and out of the apartment during the night. There was much dancing to '60s rock music in the living room and much talking, laughing, beer drinking, wine-drinking and liquor-drinking around the people who danced. In a second room, there was pot-smoking. And in a third room, there were Columbia men making out with Barnard women.

About an hour after I arrived, I noticed Nancy appearing at the party accompanied by a thin, taller guy with a mustache and longish hair. He reminded me somewhat of Errol Flynn in the Adventures of Robin Hood movie. He was dressed in a hip bohemian kind of way. I vaguely recalled having seen him around the ICV table during my freshman year. In the apartment, Nancy put her arm around her new boyfriend. They then spoke with some people at the party and both laughed.

Nancy had met her new boyfriend during a campus “Fast For Peace in Viet Nam” which he had organized earlier in the month. His name was Teddy.

Teddy was from a Jewish working-class section of Brooklyn. His parents were European-born communists who had survived imprisonment in the World War II concentration camps, and settled in the U.S. after the war. He also had a younger sister. In the 1960s, Teddy was totally assimilationist in his philosophy and rejected a Jewish cultural nationalist or Jewish religious self-identification.

Teddy had gone to Stuyvesant High School at the same time Ted had and, in the early 1960s high school student peace movement in New York City, Teddy had been active. In high school, Teddy had been more grade-oriented and more popular with his teachers than the more affluent Ted had been. He was ranked 6th—ahead of Ted—in their graduating class at Stuyvesant.

As a Columbia freshman during the 1964-65 academic year, Teddy had spent his first term studying heavily in order to prove to himself that he could get high marks at Columbia, and he did get high marks. The next term, however, Teddy devoted himself more to anti-war activism, independent reading and love relationships. He became a soft-spoken, super-friendly, bohemian left-anarchist, counter-cultural, charismatic personality at Columbia. He loved to talk with everybody he bumped into around campus. He exhibited a charming spirit which made him popular with the Barnard women he spoke with and caused him to have many Columbia men friends by the beginning of his junior year in Fall 1966.

At the P.A.C.T. party, Teddy and Nancy seemed to get bored quickly and left the party within an hour. Juan came on friendly to Beth, and she was hugging him passionately in the corner of the living room after a few drinks and a few dances. Seeing that Beth seemed into Juan that night, I escorted another Barnard woman I had been talking with for much of the evening home to her W. 106th St. and Broadway apartment.