Husband and Father
Mentor and Friend
Scholar and Poet
Revolutionary and Rabbinic Inspiration
December 4, 1939- January 30, 2006.
April 29, 2007,
As I listen to Leonard Cohen's deep voiced sad songs, I remember you As I get into bed alone and watch tv, I remember you As Jessica and I cook your favorite chicken and potatoes dish together, we remember you When Dick Cheney shot the guy in the face, and you weren't there to write at least a month's worth of poems about it, then I remember you When Jessica and I finished planning the lettuce, arugola, peas and tomatoes in the backyard garden and you weren't there to come out and tell us what a good job we'd done, then we remember you, When Jessica and I feel grateful for our life in California - the house, our friends, the sunshine, and you aren't there to share it with us, then we remember you, When I walk at the Marina and sit on a bench and look at the San Francisco skyline and see the glistening waves and water of the Bay and know how much you loved this place, then I remember you, When our friends try to get a memorial park bench in your name and get stopped by Berkeley bureaucratic processes we all remember you When Jessica and I unpack your books, your birthday poems to both of us, your favorite stuffed red chair from Raizel and all the old familiar household objects, and we set up a special place for you in a converted garage we call the Stew-dio - then we remember you When I get last year's taxes together, and see both our names on the bank statements, and find your (non-deductible) funeral expenses, then I remember you When people annoy me, or hurt me, or piss me off for reasons I don't even recognize, then I remember your flashes of temper and also teaching me how to forgive -- and I remember you. When I say to myself every day - is this really my life?? It feels so unreal - then I remember you As I work through the contradictions of getting involved with a new lover - then I remember you. As I experience the finality of the upcoming unveiling of your tombstone, then I remember you, As I try so hard to figure out who I'm supposed to be from now on, then I remember you.
What To Do Without Stew
We've had a year to ask: "What do we do without Stew?" When the shit hit the fan He knew what to do Talmudic scholar and acidhead Miss Manners Gentle Brooklyn baritone searching for bottom line truth Scorning lies with dry ice wit And injustice with Wilde soulful socialism We miss him He knew we would And left matzoh crumbs Follow them and what he called his "uncontainable need to test my bravery" What to do without Stew? Those who knew him know They know what he knew: You. Know. What. To. Do.
A Poem for Stew
I lift up my eyes unto the mountains. Just imagine. The Oregon hilltops The San Francisco Bay mist The impromptu podium The hastily assembled mob The Nova Express The Portland Albert From where will my help come. Just imagine. Who'll give me a lift Who'll get this bum out of office Who'll be sure to tell Jessica it's kind of nice there's a lawyer in the family Who'll provide technical support Who'll recall growing up in rough sections of Brooklyn Who'll regale us about a wedding in Woodstock My help comes from, just imagine this: Remembering the Summer of Love A pig in Chicago Being named and unnamed Indicted and unindicted Judging a judge on the Day of Judgment Not changing A thing about the lovely passionate counter point that got driven home to each of us who Loved you, cared for you, took your example as a prayer, a jingle, a subversive Metaphor, a sly warning, an equivocal mazel tov, a camel-haired blazer on top of A T-shirt with a message, like a beat poet, a Yippie epitaph, a bit of Yiddish Humor. You told us what to beat our breast for on Yom Kippur. Just imagine. That you did. Just imagine. I remember the time you arrived at our house for dinner on Shavuot. The day we stood at the foot of Sinai. Like People's Park. Only you and Judy came a day early. That's why I lift my eyes unto the mountains. You left us a day early. My help comes from knowing you taught us to lift up our eyes in the first place. No reason to get dragged down. There'll be plenty of help, just as long as we look for it. Just imagine.
Voices from around the world add to Stew's memorial
STEW ALBERT MEMORIAL TOUR 2006. By Judy Gumbo Albert. This past May, 3 memorials were held for Stew -- in New York City, Boston and Berkeley. My gratitude to Stew's and my friends who organized these wonderful events: Louise Yellin and Jeff Jones in New York, George Katsiaficas in Boston and Gloria Polanski and Art Goldberg in Berkeley.
NEW YORK CITY: May 7, 2006. The New York City memorial was held at NYU Law School with more than 100 people attending. If there had been an FBI agent present (and who knows, perhaps there was) he/she would have been delighted to see every character from the east coast movement who is still alive present and accounted for. In addition to the speakers, Jim Retherford flew in from Texas, Noreen Banks from Washington, a number of my dear Planned Parenthood friends came from North Carolina and the national office, and many folks who I had not seen since the 1960s, including Walter Teague, Alex Bennett, Peter Knobler, Hal Jacobs, Marian Feinberg, Michael Drobinaire, -- plus the others who shall not be named.
Lenny Weinglass was the first speaker; he talked about Stew and the Conspiracy Trial, and how Stew had come to visit him at his relatively isolated Wisconsin farm, when Lenny was writing the appellate brief for the Trial, and how Stew had brought an FBI tail with him. Sharon Krebs-Berman spoke about Stew in the early days of the Free University of New York, Margie Ratner added her perception of the famous early 1970's time where Stew and I were unjustly and wrongly accused of the capital bombing and I said (as documented in video footage of the time, footage which continually appears in all movies of the Weather Underground) "We didn't do it but we dug it."
Bob Boyle talked about how, as a student of mine at SUNY New Paltz, he found out about our politics by taking an independent study course with Stew, where one of the main readings was Mao's Little Red Book.
Ed Sanders played an unique instrument and sang a poem he wrote for the occasion.
Longtime friends Lewis Cole, Robert Friedman, Paul Chevigny and Bill Schaap all added their fond reminiscences to the tapestry of Stew's life, with each contributing their specific memory.
Donal Logue who played Stew in Steal This Movie and will be starring in a fall sitcom with none other than Mick Jagger, flew in from Hollywood and told stories of what it was like meeting Stew on the movie set.
We then showed a short video put together by friend Adam Dubin who interviewed Stew this past August for a documentary about John Lennon. I am especially grateful to Adam for putting Stew's memorial documentary together and doing such a fabulous job. The video included a segement from Robert Greenwald, producer of OUtfoxed and the Walmart documentary in which he said, essentially, that meeting Stew and I had a profound influence on his politics and helped move him in his current direction. The video can be seen at this link
Kathleen Cleaver gave a hilarous account of Stew, Eldridge and she in Algiers, and Bernardine Dohrn was inspirational, placing her personal memories of Stew the individual in the context of the times. Bernardine's and Jeff Jones' memorial speeches are published on the Monthly Review Website and also in this blog.
At the open mike afterwards, Jim Rutherford and Jim Fouratt also reminisced. Despite the sad reason that brought us all together, the NYC memorial was a joyous event for an audience who ranged from 60s vets to 20 somethings. There was much kidding and laughter amidst the tears. It really brought Stew back. He would have loved it.
MORE TO COME
Eulogy for Stew Albert by Bernardine Dohrn
MAY 6, 2006, New York City
And despite threats of indictments and of actual grand jury subpoenas, of being followed and tapped and spied upon, Stew and Judy's car had the license plate acronym: CAPBOM. Here as always, Stew's message was the politics of solidarity. He almost invented the art.
For Stew, for Judy, and for their adored daughter Jessica, the notion of principled solidarity was always horizontal, never vertical. It was always generous, "a kind spirit," as Stew would say.
It was embracing
large, genuinely enjoyed, an intrinsic part of liberation.
Stew was a humanizer.
Not a womanizer, a humanizer. He made those around him more human
and more humane, he insisted on recognizing the others' humanity.
It is The Sixties
Papers, which Stew and Judy edited and promoted as a resource of the
words of activists themselves, at the time, not whitewashed or re-remembered.
It is much like Hal Jacobs' book on Weather. Not with the edges sanded
Stew was smart and
thoughtful and deeply well read as well as deeply red.
Stew led the humor patrol, the parade of clowns, the insistence on the ridiculous, and on ridicule, the pranksters with Imagination and Irony. It was a marriage of surrealism & radical politics.
The yippies and Weather Underground were kissing cousins, sharing a confrontational energy and a fondness for guerilla agit prop. Devoted to disturbing, disrupting, defying the taken-for-granted.
But they were funnier.
And more fun.
The newly revived SDS today has a virtual national office, but the youth international party was an imaginary organization. They provided the leadership of inspiration, not bureaucracy.
Stew and Judy are celebratory existential politics, radical & original. They exemplified imagination. And if you cannot imagine it to be other, there is no revolution possible.
in participatory mystique, andmyth, unified by risk, drama, and zest.
He is the godfather to the World Social Forum, to Seattle and Tiananmen, to anarchists, and anti-military recruiters and sweatshop activists, and Cindy Sheehan and Camp Casey creators, and the massive immigrants' rights demonstrators. Stew is uncle to the yippie artists in Palestine who painted a woman on the Israeli wall at the overcrowded checkpoint near Ramallah at Qualandiya, a larger-than-life girl holding balloons above her head and rising up the wall, levitating, transcending the wall and the sorrows it represents. . . .
Like Walt Whitman who wrote, "I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. . . ," Stew was singing radical thoughts over the rooftops, embracing the world. Like Whitman, Stew was large . . . he relished, and he genuinely enjoyed.
Bernardine Dohrn, activist, academic, and child advocate, is director of the Children and Family Justice Center and clinical associate professor of law in Chicago.
STIRRING THE POT: Remembering Stew Albert -- 1939-2006 by Jeff Jones
Stew Albert had one of his smart, funny ideas when he was thinking about a name for his memoir. "My Sixties," he said was going to call it. He was in his late fifties when we kicked this one around and I thought the irony was sublime. He knew the book wouldn't be out until he had turned the numerical corner.
Stew didn't call his book "My Sixties" -- the title is still out there, if someone with a lifetime of movement movement cred wants to grab it. Instead, he called it Who The Hell Is Stew Albert? Who indeed? The title is a quote from Howard Stern, who once responded with that question when one of his on-air gang started talking about Stew as if everyone in the world knew who he was. Stern didn't, but that was his loss: it always seemed to me that Stew knew everyone and everyone knew Stew.
Nobody was more devoted to the idea of the Sixties. If you want to see what I mean, visit his Web site. He worked hard to translate Sixties values to a new generation of political activists. He kept in touch with a wide array of movement veterans, loyal and engaged, blogging his thoughts and poems every day -- right up until his penultimate day. Younger activists adored him. He died January 30th.
Stew had the look, but it wasn't the look of a Jewish kid from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, which is what he was. He was big, barrel-chested, with curly blond hair and piercing blue eyes. Losing Stew -- he was 66 when he fell to liver cancer -- creates a huge personal, political, and emotional hole for me, as I know it does for so many others, especially his wife Judy "Gumbo" Clavir Albert and his daughter Jessica Pearl. The Alberts' post 1960s peregrinations -- Bay Area, Hudson Valley, back to the west coast -- finally landed them in Portland, Oregon, where they have lived for many years. Years of fighting various ailments kept Stew close to home, and close to his computer where he became one of the most successful Sixties radicals I know at moving to online activism (most of my emails were answered within minutes). Whenever we met, we spent hours catching up on the latest gossip about the doings of various old Panthers, Yippies, and Weathermen. And then we would plot and scheme, mostly about how to support the young activists that our mutual optimism always believed would emerge to lead a new generation of resistance to racism, environmental catastrophe, and Bush's oil wars.
How I met Stew says something about who he was. That is, I don't remember how I met him. I remember the first time I met the other Yippie founders: Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Paul Krassner. But Stew just appeared in my life one day, and he never left. To one degree or another, the founding Yippies were all nuts. It was their strength, their weakness, their charisma, and their charm. For Abbie, in particular, it was also his doom. Stew was different. He always had a strategy and a plan. He managed the campaign of Pigasus the Pig for president in 1968 and ran for sheriff of Alameda County in 1970 (he lost, but carried the city of Berkeley). More than anyone, he helped Abbie and Jerry give definition to the Yippie movement. It has gone years without comment, but without his ability to broker their competitive egos and channel their ideas into strategy, what is passing into history as the Yippie story would have been different, definitely diminished and possibly disregarded.
The Sixties were filled with political tendencies: anarchism, communism, socialism, the working-class, armed revolution, Panthers, Weathermen, Maoism. It wasn't easy to find one's way and keep one's head. The lineup may be different today, but it's not any easier. In this political stew, Stew Albert was a cultural radical with a political ideology. We bonded because I was a political radical struggling to blend New Left ideology with the cultural power of young people. We found ourselves speaking the same language, and stayed friends to the end. Along the way we had some adventures. When the Weathermen helped Timothy Leary escape from a California prison and make his way to an uncertain reception at Panther Eldridge Cleaver's expatriate compound in Algeria, Stew went over to help with the introduction. Long before today's Bush-era wiretaps, Stew and Judy were being watched and tailed by the FBI. After the Weather Underground bombed the US Capitol in 1971 to protest the Vietnam War, they famously declared: "We didn't do it, but we dug it." Throughout their lives, Stew and Judy were always standup -- courageous and uncompromising. And they always did a great job telling the stories: there is no better text for those who are interested than The Sixties Papers, Documents of a Rebellious Decade, which they edited and published in 1984.
We last spoke New Year's day. That was just after his email arrived letting his many friends know that doctors had just found the cancer and that it was bad. His daily blog told the unfolding story of his fading hopes for a cure, his joyful, if tiring, visits with friends. Daughter Jessica came home from law school to be with him, and his happiness grew having her near. Two days before the end, he blogged to the world that "my politics have not changed." No deathbed conversions or regrets for a life lived radically and well, in constant resistance to a government and political system he abhorred. As Stew slipped away, he posted his final words -- "It's still me. It's still me."
A memorial service in Portland used music to tell Stew's story. It began with Mr. Tambourine Man, included his good friend Phil Ochs's I Ain't Marching Anymore, and ended with the emotional minyan joining in on Paul Robeson's Joe Hill. Recent memorials to remember Stew and support Judy and Jessica took place in New York City, Boston, and Berkeley.
His life is still there on the Web -- pay him a visit. It would give him eternal pleasure to know he still has friends stopping by.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
ELINOR LANGER REMARKS AT STEW'S FUNERAL:
My appointed-by-Judy-and-Jessica part in Stew's funeral today is to talk about Stew and the 60s, but I have to begin with something else--something that many of you know as well as I do--that without Judy there could have been no Stew, at least in the sense that we and people all around the country are mourning and celebrating him today. Some years ago in one of Stew's annual State of the Stew speeches he referred to that composite person, "Stu-dy and Jew" and it stayed with me as the aptest possible description of what has got to be one of the closest relationships any of us have ever seen; and I want to take it a step further and say that without Jessica there would not have been the same "Stu-dy and Jew" because she really did complete and extend them and it is through Jessica that these free-spirited, free-wheeling political radicals became, without losing any of their political fizz, what we in this community so well know them to be: of all things, a model family.
But to get to Stew and the 60s: I've been thinking about this for a few days both because of this assignment and because I've been at the house and witness to a lot of what's been pouring in, and talking with friends, and I've come to a realization I want to try to share: namely that the work that Stew was doing in recent years--his memoir, his website, his film consulting, his interviews--was not, as I confess I sometimes feared, a matter of living in the past, but of consciously showcasing the political values and spirit of the decade in which he so passionately believed to help preserve them for the next generations. Given the fact that those values and that spirit were not always identically understood or practiced within the left itself, not to mention appreciated outside of it, it is necessary to try to be clear about what values and what spirit he was bringing forward, in other words, to define what we are talking about. While no single person, Stew included, can possibly be said to represent that huge, argumentative, ever-changing, agglomeration of civil rights, antiwar, and generally anti-capitalist self-labeled revolutionary activists known as "the movement", of which the Yippies themselves were only one part, the people and groups in it obviously did have a lot in common--: most fundamentally, I think, a conviction that their lives and actions mattered (and that other peoples lives mattered); that individually and collectively they were responsible for trying to make things better both at home and abroad, or at the least for trying to keep our country from making things worse for people abroad; and that they were part of the flow of history and they had it in their collective power to change it. I have to add, too - though I think you all know it - that the Yippies, if not always the rest of us, thought that all this heavy-sounding politicial activity could be a lot of fun. But in any case, when I look at what Stew was writing and posting those are the aspects of the values and spirit of the 1960s that I'm sure he was trying to highlight, the message I'm sure he was trying to bring, and when I look at what has been coming into the house in the days that I've been there, I'm sure that his message was being heard and understood.
Here's what I've collected or indeed filched from the house--
First, a note from a pile of Thank Yous from schoolkids for what appears to have been a recent visit to their classroom:
Dear Mr. Albert:
Thank you very much for taking time out of your day to spend talking with my class about your life. Your stories made everything that I've read about come to life. None of the events seemed real until I talked to someone who was there and in on the action. Your life is an inspirational tale of standing up for what is right and for personal beliefs. I truly believe that young students could learn a great deal from you. Thanks again.
Second--My own notes from some oldtimer I didn't know pouring out his heart to me on the phone Monday, a relative insider of some sort:
Of the old Yippies Stew was one of the most stable upstairs. You know what I mean? Stew stuck to the issues. He was more rational. A super-doer more than a super-star. He always tried to keep out of and stop the infighting. His attitude was "let's talk". (And now, here is that word again) He was an inspiration.
Lastly--Something that came in over the computer on Sunday from a total stranger in Colorado, a response to another website posting, with the wonderful subject heading "I came in through the bedroom window". He began by quoting from Hammond Guthrie:
With thought of love
Since reading the words of Hammond Guthrie on the Diggers' Forum, I've had you in my thoughts. Like the lazy fuck I sometimes am, and the nascent fog bound survivor that I always am, it seems appropriate that at least once I express my feelings in a somewhat timely manner. If life were flash cards of the type used by Dylan in his old timely video, you might consider the deck running short. But look around you. The deck lays scattered at your feet, read, used, worn but legible. And the cards that are missing from your hand or the pile at your feet have flown with the wind to deposit their content on others, to continue to incite, inflame, instill and inspire. You've carried the weight when no one wanted to listen, now know that you can pass the burden with your head held high, knowing that you have made a difference.
Carrying the weight when no wanted to listen is exactly what Stew was doing in his work of giving the 1960s a further reach. And thanks to Judy and Jessica, and to his many dear friends in this room and beyond, he had a hell of a good time doing it.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
FROM PAUL KRASSNER, AS PUBLISHED IN HIGH TIMES MAGAZINE:
Remembering Stew Albert by Paul Krassner After Ratso Sloman ghost-wrote
Howard Stern’s autobiography, PrivateParts, he compiled an oral
biography of Abbie Hoffman, Steal ThisDream. Stern wasn’t impressed.
“Well,” said Ratso, “Stew Albert likesit.”
“Who the hell is Stew Albert?” asked Stern. Stew was the
first one to turn me on with marijuana. We met in 1965 when I was
invited to emcee the first Vietnam Teach-In on theUC-Berkeley campus,
and he introduced me to a supersized Thai stick."Now I know why
we're fighting in Southeast Asia," I observed. "To protect
the crops." That quote became a headline on the front page ofthe
Berkeley Barb, together with a photo of me smoking a joint. Stew never
got the media attention that Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin did as
co-organizers of the Yippies (Youth International Party),although
he was the personification of an activist. He also served asa behind-the-scenes
peacemaker. During the protests in 1968 at theDemocrats convention
in Chicago, Abbie bought a pig to run as theYippie candidate for president,
but Jerry thought it wasn’t big enoughor ugly enough, so Stew
went with him to buy another pig, bigger anduglier. Stew was the first
demonstrator there to get hit with a police billyclub. After his head
was stitched and bandaged, we went to a WesternUnion office and sent
a telegram (recently deemed an obsolescent meansof communication)
to the UN, requesting them to send in a human rightsunit to investigate
violations in Chicago. Stew, who had acted as a "Malcolm X, and
then the Black Panthers, had planned to take their caseto the UN."
We were both unindicted co-conspirators for crossing state lines tofoment
rioting--later, an official investigation would conclude that ithad
been "a police riot"--unindicted because they were afraid
we wouldhave a freedom-of-the-press defense; in addition to being
there asprotesters, Stew covered the counter-convention for the Berkeley
Barb,and I covered it for my own magazine, The Realist. I published
a couple of his articles, one on the legacy of CheGuevara, another
on his campaign for sheriff in Alameda County. Hecame in 4th, winning
in Berkeley with 65,000 votes. Later, he became ago-between for Timothy
Leary and Eldridge Cleaver in Algeria. Learywanted to take LSD with
Cleaver, who told Stew that he was afraid Learywould try to program
him, but said yes to acid provided he could wearhis gun during the
trip. Stew died recently at the age of 66. I’ll really miss
his sense ofhumor. When he wrote a memoir, he decided to title it
Who the Hell isStew Albert? Previously, he had co-edited with his
wife, Judy Clavir,The Sixties Papers, a collection of documents behind
thecountercultural history of that era, from Tom Hayden’s “Port
HuronStatement”--the credo of Students For a Democratic Society,
currentlyundergoing a rebirth on campuses--to Robin Morgan’s
feminist manifesto,“Goodbye to All That.” The Alberts
had found an illegal surveillance device under their car,they sued
the FBI and won. Part of the settlement enabled them to buya computer,
with which they produced that book, now used in collegecourses across
the country. I’ll smoke to that irony.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
En 1967, Albert dirigio la campana con la que Rubin se presento
FROM KEN STERN: AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE:
Judy asked me to write a few words about Stew's Judaism, and its influence
I was in Portland for the last months of the never-ending Dennis Banks -
While Bill was excited to see the Alberts, and thoroughly enjoyed the
Russ Redner and I had spoken many times before about Judaism, and why so
Stew was proud of his Judaism, and it was a large part of his work inside
In 1992 Stew was asked about the trend of Jews finding spiritual community
This notion of the importance of community was at the heart of Stew's
For all of us who were part of Stew's community, who valued his ideas and
FROM AURORA LANDAZURI, Asociacion Peruana Mujer y Familia (Peruvian Association Women and Family), Callao, Peru:
We learned from Fanny that Stewart passed away. We wanted to write immediately, but we didn’t find the words to tell you what we felt. I think that nothing of what we write will really express what we want to communicate to you.
It is true that we didn’t get to know Stewart that much, but Lilian and I remember him with a lot of endearment. We remember the first time we went to Portland, both you and Stew welcomed us in your house. It was a very warm gathering. We remember that Stew told us that he had visited Peru and he talked about the Peruvian pisco. He really made us feel his kindness in the way that he embraced us. Lilian and I were also remembering that Stew showed us the portrait of Che Guevara, and that made him feel very proud.
I think that sometimes you don’t need to know people for many years to feel their warmth, and that is a quality that Stewart had. We really appreciated his warmth. It was our first contact with you guys. He helped a lot for it to become something very special. We were in a different environment, in another culture, a little bit nervous.
In these cases we either lack the words or have too many, but we didn’t want to miss telling you that we really feel your loss and we can imagine what it’s like for you. You have our deepest condolences. Though he has gone away physically he will always be present in your heart, and in the hearts of all of us who had the luck of meeting him, even briefly. He made a great impression on us.
We wish you strength to go forward.
We love you,
Original Text in Spanish
Mensaje para Judy
Nos enteramos por Fanny de la muerte de Stewart, quise escribirte inmediatamente, pero me faltaban palabras para poder comunicarte lo que sentíamos y creo que nada de lo que pueda escribirte podrá expresarlo.
Pienso que a veces no es necesario conocer años a las personas para sentir ese calor humano, cualidad tan especial que el tenia, y lo valoramos mucho ya que era casi nuestro primer contacto con ustedes y el ayudo mucho en que eso se convirtiera en algo muy especial ya que nosotras nos encontrábamos en un espacio diferente en otra cultura, un tanto nerviosas,
Como te decía al inicio las palabras faltan o sobran en estos casos pero no queríamos pasar sin decirte que sentimos mucho su perdida y lo que significa para ti, recibe nuestras mas sentidas condolencias . Y si bien se ha alejado físicamente siempre estará presente en tu corazón y en los que tuvimos la suerte de conocerlo aunque fuzgamente, pero nos dejo una grata huella
Mucha Fuerza y adelante
FROM JIM RETHERFORD Remembering Stew Albert:
I am greatly saddened by the news of Stew Albert's death. The last of the Yippies' unholy trinity of Abbie, Jerry, and Stew, noted “theoretician” of the Youth International Party, the “quiet one” – Stew was a very decent man as well as an indefatigable True Believer. My heart goes out to Judy Gumbo and their daughter Jessica Pearl.
I am especially moved by Stew's dignified dialogue with death during his last days as he continued to post thoughts and feelings on his blog every day until the day before his passing. You will find no remorse, no regrets, no backing down in the face of his own mortality: "Dreaming of sleep / in a nice warm hole / forever." I am pleased to say that he died with his passion fully focused on the business at hand.
Stew Albert will always live in my memory because of two extraordinary events in late-Sixties NYC:
The first was a group visit to the Palestine Liberation Organization observer team at the United Nations (probably in 1969). I don't remember who planned it or who attended, other than Stew and Gumbo and (I think) Daria Price. Maybe Dennis Dalrymple /aka/ Crunchy Granola. Maybe Robin Palmer and Sharon Krebs. A small contingent of NYC leftist crazies. We met with a passionate young Palestinian (late 20s) and had an extraordinarily candid discussion about the Palestinian "question." At one point Stew announced that he was Jewish and was very concerned about the public perception that the PLO hated Jews.
Our host replied: "Hate Jews!?! I cannot hate Jews. I am Jewish. That would be like hating myself. My mother is Jewish, my father Arab. By Jewish law, I am therefore Jewish."
"In my village in Palestine," he continued, "Jews and Arabs, for many many generations, lived together peacefully as one people, Palestinian people. We laughed and played and sang songs and ate at the same table for supper. Many, like my parents, intermarried. This ended when the Zionists came and drove us from our homes at gunpoint. Our Jewish neighbors, Sephartic Jews, dark Jews, were driven away also.
"We do not hate Jews. We hate Zionism."
The second event was the nationwide Guy Goodwin "witchhunt" grand juries of 1971. After Leslie Bacon had been "abducted" by FBI agents in D.C. and driven incommunicado across the country to appear before a Portland grand jury without counsel, special prosecutor Guy Goodwin convened grand juries in several U.S. cities, including NYC, ostensibly to investigate the United States Capitol bombing by the Weather Underground. Six of us were subpoenaed to appear before the NYC panel -- myself, Stew, Judy, Sandra Wardwell from Isla Vista, Ellen Stone, and Walter Teague.
We all -- except Walter -- decided to play dress-up for our grand jury appearances. I rented a gorilla costume (since I didn't want to disappoint the feds in their search for urban guerrillas). Judy and Sandra dressed appropriately as broomstick-carrying witches (Ellen Stone would have been the third witch from Macbeth but was never served with a subpoena). Walter portrayed himself as, well, vintage Walter – picture your everyday working class commie in blue flannel work shirt festooned with National Liberation Front support buttons, blue jeans, work boots.
Stew, however, stole the show! He appeared as a cross-dressing female terrorist bombshell, glammed out to the nines in an utterly fabu-u-u-uloso rainbow-striped minidress with the name "Bernadine" stitched in sequins across the bodice. All the trannies of Lower Manhattan dropped their mascara at the sight of this burly 6-2 bearded beauty with tall blonde 'fro. Meanwhile, the ever-present undercover cops could be seen nervously shifting from one foot to the other, trying to hide the billyclubs bulging in their pants pockets, and special persecutor Goodwin blinked, freaked, and called off the entire proceeding when he realized that Stew wasn't wearing panties.
A fond farewell to a courageous comrade, freedom fighter, revolutionary prankster, and defender of a real Palestine of Jews and Arabs alike ...
Sunday, February 19, 2006
PROCLAMATION PROCLAIMING FEBRUARY 1st, 2006
WHEREAS, Stew Albert died at 3:20 AM on Monday morning, January 30th in Portland, Oregon, and
WHEREAS, Stew Albert was a leader of the Vietnam Day Committee, an organizer of peace marches through the streets of Oakland and through the streets of Washington D.C. and through the streets of Chicago and through the streets around the Pentagon and through the streets of Berkeley and through the streets around People’s Park, and
WHEREAS, Stew Albert was a prisoner at Santa Rita for his role in People’s Park, was released and became a candidate for Sheriff of Alameda County in 1970, receiving 65,000 votes, carrying Berkeley by 10,000 votes, and
WHEREAS, Stew Albert was a co-founder of the Yippies and a friend of Jerry Rubin and a friend of Abby Hoffman and a friend of Eldridge Cleaver and a friend of John Lennon and a friend of thousands who identified with the Movement, and
WHEREAS, Stew Albert was a target of J. Edgar Hoover and a target of Richard Nixon and a target of the FBI and the victor in a lawsuit against their harassment and an irrepressible critic of the unjust and the idiotic to the moment he died, addressing the power that rules us now, and
WHEREAS, Stew Albert kept faith with the Movement and kept its spirit alive in his soul every day and served as the Movement’s living historian and the Movement’s living history lesson and the Movement’s connection to new generation after new generation, and
WHEREAS, Stew Albert was a gentle man, a husband who loved his wife Judy, a father who loved his daughter Jessica, a friend who loved his friends, not just the old friends, but also the new friends and the friends he hadn’t met yet, and
WHEREAS, Stew Albert will be deeply missed; now
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Oakland City Council proclaims Wednesday, February 1, 2006, the day of his memorial service, “Stew Albert Day” in the City of Oakland, in recognition of his contributions, his humor and his good sense, his decency and his faith in what can be, what must be and what will be.
I CERTIFY THAT THE FOREGOING IS A FULL, TRUE AND
Monday, February 13, 2006
FROM HAL JACOBS: February 12, 2006
To his credit, Stew was not dogmatic or one-dimensional: he was the kind of person you could talk to about almost anything in an open and free manner. We reconnected less than a year ago when my wife and I accidentally ran into Stew and Judy at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. We talked as if we had never spent a moment apart. I am deeply grateful I got to spend some quality time with him before he died.
His wife Judy and his daughter Jessica provided him with all the love and support that any man might hope for. But I wonder if Stew truly realized how much he was deeply respected by all those outside his immediate family who shared his commitment and dreams. From the way his loss has been described in obituaries and in testimonials from friends, acquaintances, and even total strangers that ought no longer to be in doubt. We come and we all go sooner or later, but not all of us will have lived as full, as principled, and as meaningful a life as Stew. I miss him, and I will not forget him.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
FROM LOUISE YELLIN: Stew Albert 1939-2006
For Judy, Jessica, Paula, and Hannah and in memory of Mark, Abbie, Jerry, Anita, and Stew.
Stew was ahead of his time. He knew, in 1972, that South Beach would be the next big thing. Along with hundreds of others, he went to Miami to organize around the Democratic Convention in July (piece of cake: remember McGovern?) and to coordinate protests against Richard Nixon and the war in Vietnam at the Republican Convention in August. Earlier that year, Stew had experienced chest pains; they must have been awful, since he had an amazing chest. Someone sent him to a fancy East Side cardiologist, who told him that he had arrhythmia and advised him to take it easy. (Not likely.) Never one to complain or languish, Stew turned his ailment into an organizing tool, using it to spearhead one of the most unusual coalitions in the New Left, the A-K [alte-kocke] / Yippie Alliance.
When Stew arrived in Miami, he checked into the Albion Hotel, Youth International Party HQ, and checked out the Jewish “seniors,” exiles from Brooklyn like himself, denizens of the Albion and other shabby venues, whom he found hanging out in the local park. Stew soon discovered that the seniors hated Nixon as much as we did – well, almost as much. Schmoozing, kibbitzing, noshing, and, no doubt, kvetching about his cardiologist, Stew got the seniors to overcome their initial antipathy to longhairs and braless feminists, and he finally laid to rest the Yippie injunction not to trust anyone over 30, a milestone that he and Jerry and Abbie had long left behind. By the time that I got to Miami, Stew had a reserve army of grandparents ready to back up the demonstrators swarming all over not-yet-chic South Beach. Sitting on porches throughout the neighborhood, the old folks kept watch on us, paying special attention to a pair of organizers they called “the two tall ones from New York,” my then partner and now husband Robert Friedman and Lewis Cole, editors of University Review (UR). We first met Stew when he fetched up at UR as the resident sage and chiropractor, and he continued to advise us and adjust our spines throughout the more than 30 years that we were friends. I wish he’d remained in Miami in August, 1972: perhaps he would have joined Allen Ginsberg in drawing thousands of demonstrators together by showing us how a chanted “om” can be put to many uses. As I recall, though, Stew had to return to NY to take care of his heart, leaving us to OM our way to the Convention where we hoped to stop the Nixon renomination but instead were busted for removing sand from the beach.
My job in Miami was to serve as liaison between the Attica Brothers and the protest organizers. (I was assigned this job by Mark Rosenberg, who had been working as an unpaid advisor to the Attica Brothers and was now making $75 a week selling ad space in UR to movie studios. Mark had to stay in New York to keep the operation and the rest of us afloat.) The Brothers had been promised hotel rooms and spending money that never materialized; they were understandably angry, and I was mortified about letting them – and Mark – down. Many years later, I learned that a FOIA search had identified whoever was in charge of the money for the demonstrations as a Cointelpro agent: Brilliant, I thought—set a group of black ex-prisoners recently released from Attica against the white radicals who brought them to Miami and, the Brothers believed, left them high and dry. Stew, of course, could have predicted this; nothing that the government did in those days – or was doing in the weeks before he died – surprised him. I didn’t get around to asking him what he thought about what happened to South Beach in the years after we evacuated, but I’m sure he would have had as much to say to the margarita-swilling swells as he did to the oy-voy-voyers they displaced.
Stew never succumbed to paranoia or to false hopes, and he faced the world with a sly and delicious humor that sustained the rest of us. Earlier today, I found on his blog this quintessentially Albertian wisdom, dated only a few days earlier when he was clearly suffering as intensely from chemo as from cancer: “I wouldn’t stick around, but I need options. I'll try to keep you posted.” I wish I believed that he’d continue blogging from the beyond. I guess we’ll have to keep each other posted now.
FROM THE NEXT GENERATION:
Dear Mrs. and Ms. Albert,
I never met Stew, but he and the Yippies were a major inspiration for me to become involved politically. In high school, I recorded and relished "Steal This Movie"; in university, as I prepared to venture into organizing, I read the whole bookshelf that the library had to offer on the 1960's in America. Your and your husband's "Sixties Papers" were the first and best book on that shelf, and I keep referring to it ever since. I followed Stew's blog irregularly, and I had lost touch with it for a few months now. I was surprised and saddened to hear of his demise.
Activist, Tel Aviv University / City University, London
From Judy: More than 350 people attended Stew's service on Feb. 1, 2006 in Portland and many came to Stew's gravesite to see him laid to rest. In a few days I will post the remarks and songs to give you a sense of what a wonderful, joyous, sad and heartfelt occasion it was. Stew's obituary has appeared in many places across the country including the Oregonian, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, AP, Counterpunch, the Huffington Post, on the radio and reportedly even on local tv. Their universal theme is that Stew kept his commitment to his ideals and will to act on them to the day he died. Stew would have loved to know that this is the way he's being remembered.
Comrade StewBy Jomo
Stew Albert was one of these rare individuals who seemed able to survive, no matter what. For years, I thought that he'd go on living if not forever than at least until old age. After all, he'd beaten the Hepatitis C that threatened to destroy him, and he'd had many a bout with "Dr. Doom" as we called that unpredictable beast who seemed to spring in our lives from time to time.
Stew Appreciation from Counterpunch on Line
Revolutionary for the Hell of It
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FROM JUDY GUMBO: I am moved & very grateful for the hundreds and hundreds of e-mails and cards Jessica and I are receiving -- from close, dear and long time friends to people we haven't heard from for years & years to folks who begin: You don't know me but..." and then go on to tell a story about how Stew or the Yippies influenced their lives. His obituary has been published all around the country and also in Canada. For the time being we are checking his e-mail address regularly. If you have a "dead tree" copy of his obituary that appeared in your local paper, please e-mail me at email@example.com.Thank you again for all your kind thoughts and words. Love, Judy & Jessica.
CHECK OUT HAMMOND GUTHRIE'S WEBSITE Remembering Stew Albert http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/thirdpage/postreatment.html
SPEAKER: LESLIE KAY READING FROM WHO THE HELL: Excerpt from Who the Hell is Stew Albert ? selected and read by Leslie Kay © 2004 by Stew Albert Red Hen Press “I accepted Jerry’s and Abbie’s invitation to become a Yippie disorganizer at the Chicago convention for a variety of reasons, but mainly to protest the war. The Vietnam conflagration was a malignant product of the Democrats’ special do-gooder brand of anti-Communism. Believing that they could save a country from revolution and, at the same time, promote democracy and social reform with napalm, tiger cages and bombing, it is no wonder that the Democrats placed such enormous faith in the orderly efficacy of the Chicago police force and that city’s prominent mayor, Richard J. Daley. Chicago’s allure went beyond moral repugnance for the war. I had just begun a relationship with Judy Clavir. We were both filing for divorce and coping with the disillusionment of marriage. In the months preceding the Democratic Convention we shared a dreary Greenwich Village cellar. Judy was small—not much taller than five feet. But she had large round eyes, a gleaming smile, and wild, curly brown here. Her passion for tumultuous activity and high adventure gave her a large, commanding soul. I found her irresistible. We dwelled underneath Liberty House, and establishment that sold clothing and crafts made by poor southerners. The Greenwich Village store was the brainchild of civil rights activists Ellen Maslow and Abbie Hoffman. The cellar had little room to spare, given all the unopened Liberty House merchandise in storage. We also competed for living space with our black-and-white kitten Krupskaya, (I googled this name this morning and learned that Krupskaya was the wife of Lenin) a gift from the corner grocer. Still, the cellar’s dampness kept the room refreshingly air-conditioned so that during the summer months of 1968, our friends would come out of the heat and join us, feasting on hotplate spaghetti. In order to serve our special guests of honor, we hustled up a bed, a table, and a bulb for the one overhead light. We also lifted some dishes and silverware from a few local restaurants. We entered and departed the lower depths through the sidewalk level cellar doors. There was no natural light entering our humble dwelling, so it was easy to oversleep until three in the afternoon. My first appearance into the sunlight was always particularly frightening. First my hands could be seen reaching out from darkness and fumbling with the outside lock. Only my hands were visible to the waking world. Most of my body was still beneath the doors. Then, the grates would swing open and wild-haired and bare-chested, I would emerge with a barrel of nighttime piss that I dumped into the nearest sewer. Then I headed for the grocery to purchase rolls and orange juice. And finally I would return to the underworld and Judy for coffee and jam. I was confidant that Ms. Clavir, with her mini-skirt and her big brown eyes, was attracted to my blue eyes and blond curls, otherwise why else would she agree to live with me in such a primitive setting? But then, I got the distinct impression from her that when it came to politics, I was a ‘hippie lightweight’. Judy was sired by a hard bitten Canadian brand of Stalinism. It combined deductive absolutism with an Ontario prejudice that every American was a dumb schmuck. There were, however, some fortunate holes in her armor. She was madly attracted to the Black Panther Party and being on the run from Toronto boredom, she could also be lured my table by apocalyptic promises of havoc, mayhem and an altogether fun week in the Windy City. I scored big with her when a judge reinstated Eldridge Cleaver’s parole and I was able to phone the mythic Panther leader at his private number. For Judy, this accomplishment was startling evidence that her new boyfriend wasn’t merely a handy hunk; he could matter-of-factly telephone one of the revolutionary ‘super gods’ and exchange first name “what’s happenings” with his holiness. And now in Chicago, I threw at her feet all the broken promises and pretensions of America as bagatelles to prove my love and hidden power. I offered Judy the irresistibly sexy opportunity of making political history. Deep down, I also needed Chicago to fill up the hole created by my failed marriage. Being newly in love with Judy was not sufficient. I needed to prove myself manly and brave by running with Rubin, Krassner and Phil Ochs. I would go to Chicago—out of strength and weakness—with Judy and our kitten. The Democratic Party, the Chicago police, the U.S. Army and the FBI would try to bounce us from Mayor Daley’s saloon. If they succeeded, then no gin mil in America would be Safe for our political persuasions. For whatever the mixed-up reason that brought me to Chicago, I would stay because rebel freedom was on the line. If I left, or if we all skipped town, we could never secure another permit again in order to hold large, embarrassing demonstrations. The FBI’s hard line would be other only line. When I would finally leave Chicago, having stood up against the opposition, I knew that some bit of hot iron in my soul had backed up all that brave talk. And I could depart from the ‘Paris of the Midwest,’ having won Judy’s heart. The Canadian Stalinist would become an American Yippie!” Sunday, February 05, 2006
REMEMBRANCES IN STEW'S NAME may be sent to Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette, 3231 SE 5oth Ave, Portland OR 97206 or the Rosenberg Fund for Children, 116 Pleasant Street, Suite 3312, Easthampton, MA 01027
FROM TOM HAYDEN: dear judy, jessica and friends of stew wherever we all are: ...i am sorry not to be there but i share my love with all who are trying to hold on to stew even as, in the words of my father in law Jack Williams, Stew "caught the box car." That is an IWW metaphor for the last ride in a long life of catching a ride to the newest place where hope rises from the grave where it is meant to be buried. Stew was a Wobbly lost in time. So he became a Yippie. He was a whole person in a time of broken lives. An anti-Renaissance Renaissance men. A lover. An intellectual. A Jew. A curly blond Greek God. A dope fiend. A warrior. A story-teller. A devoted dependent husband, an adoring father, a mystic, a Marxist, a madman, a moral man, a communist whose only party was compassion. He would have freaked out Karl Marx, but not Commandante Marcos. Others did not survive the divide between the youth revolution and the muddle of middle age as well as Stew, because he discovered that he could find love in the cracks of the very life he hated. I suspect he knew that love and learning were the only human responses to a universe that is the utterly incredible, incomprehensible, and infinite home to which we all return. He was my roommate long ago, in Berkeley. If there is a counter-universe, Stew will be there, and he'll remember to leave us all a key. See you all on the boxcar. tom Hyaden
SPEAKER: JESSICA ALBERT I wasn't going to do this but I wouldn't be Stew Albert's daughter if there was an opportunity to give a speech and I didn't take it. Stew taught me how to think, how to argue, how to recognize con men and how to know which con men to keep around. And he taught me how to have fun in my life and in my politics. We've always had a small family but our friends have been our family and I really see that now with all the love and support we've been getting. Stew would love all this -- he's getting such great press.
SPEAKER : JOAN KVITKA: 1 February 2006
And G-d said:
Let there be a Stew
And so it came to be.
The Creatures of the Sea
And the Dwellers of the Land
And those that took flight in the Air
All gave something of themselves.
Ferociousness and calmness
Cloven hooves and furry paws and pincer jaws
Defiance and Agreeableness
Spiny hackles, downy coats, fleet feet and wings unshackled.
Irreverent Humor and Sacred Blessings,
Yellow manes, sharpened brains and spirits vain
Bile and Phlegm
Appetite and Lust
Sleep and Dreams
Knowledge and Innocence.
Each one added to the mix
Until it was decreed
Now THIS is a STEW!
And the People said:
Let us feast from such a Hearty Stew
And so from the corners of the world they came to be feed.
The Spices of History
And the Bitterness of Struggle
Words and the poetry of silence between Words
All came alive eternally in this Stew.
Holiness and infidelity
Raging panthers and yipping guerillas and trickster coyotes
Danger and intoxicating charisma
Backbones of peasants, laughing spirits, souls on fire and reverse chaos
Understated horrors and love without greed.
Brooklyn lore, Chicago gore and Catskill chores
Pigs and Sheriffs
Bugs and Beatles
Outrage and Surrender
Mythical and polemical.
Each morsel divine, simmered into Gumbo
Until it was decreed
Now this is OUR STEW!
EULOGY: RABBI JOEY WOLF In Memoriam: For Stew Albert
I’d like to read a poem by Stephen Dunn, entitled “Radical”…
So what if the world’s indifferent
spin and tick was a given?
I thought I’d watch the sun climb
the far edge of the ocean,
see if I could break the mindless day
cleanly, my terms, what the hell.
I arrived in the star-filled dark,
found myself remembering
the first time I woke,
next to someone beautiful.
Always I wanted to save
the word magnificent
for someone like that,
for what truly lifts the ceiling.
I sat crosslegged on the sand
in the changing dark
It announced itself in pink
long before its coming.
Such impertinence, I thought,
like a kid who’s just set fire
to his report card, his shame,
outside his teacher’s window.
Then the gulls began quarreling
as if what was happening
could be a matter of opinion,
but they were merely experts,
there every morning, not to be trusted.
Stew, like a number of his friends, taught us “not to trust the experts”. He was quizzical, disarming, facetious, heretical and chutzpadik. And he was wise, erudite, funny, gentle and loving. His radical disposition produced an admonition; his irreverence administered a slap in the face to a culture prone to denial and mendacity. To those of us who loved him, there was always the embrace of a comrade and lovely schmoozing. He worked hard for peace, and he demonstrated against injustice over five decades. Others have already spoken eloquently of the intense politics – the rage, the lampooning and the love – of the sixties. Stew was a force for what was right… But I want to talk about his Jewish neshama, his soul. This is how I knew him best. He was a friend, someone to talk to. He listened quietly, and always had something compelling to say about the current predicament; he brought a slant to an argument that might have otherwise been dull or predictable. He’d often call early in the morning; we’d talk about the news, which frequently wasn’t good. We’d curse the enemies together. Or I’d come over, and he’d sit back on the couch, mulling over an idea. If I’d offer an opinion, there would be a lapse of time. He’d ruminate on what we were discussing, weighing the plausibility of arguments. Or he’d keep me at bay – sometimes there was a caveat to what I had said, other times, due to his moderate hearing loss he held off – and I could certainly sympathize with this. During these moments when he was non-committal, he would hold himself apart, gathering up his forces like a lion preparing to leap. You knew his response would be a measured one. Stew would celebrate with you, but you had to earn his approval. When we did engage in animated conversation, like the time we both expressed immeasurable appreciation for Amos Oz’ Days of Light and Darkness as an alternative narrative of the State of Israel, it was not merely to confirm what we already knew, but to plumb some aspect of a story being told that gave rise to a new interpretation of politics and history. Anyone who knew Stew knew that he was at heart both a chronicler of a great story and a revisionist at the same time. He was fierce, and this means that he could be fiercely with you or against you. He certainly let me have it on a couple of occasions. There was the time when, during the first Gulf War a writer for a popular magazine came out to Portland, to do a story on Jewish progressives in disagreement about American military involvement in Iraq. Now I figured Stew attracted these reporters, but I never could fathom why they cared about what I had to say? As far as I was concerned, my views were secondary to Stew’s, because however much we disagreed, he ultimately had a greater depth of analysis and there was something I could learn from him. So there was this scene up at the Japanese Garden, where the reporter baited us with a question I can’t remember, it was long ago – in order to heighten the tension and make a better story. The photographer got down on one knee, flashed his camera frantically, and my heart beat in a crescendo. We got into an argument about that first Gulf War, and I called Stew a dogmatist and without hesitation he punched back and called me an opportunist. We didn’t talk for about a month, we were so mad – but in my mind I knew that I had won the argument. I won on the basis that getting to know him and count him as my friend was, indeed, an opportunity I was glad to exploit. And in more recent times, when this last terrible war that goes on now began, Stew skewered me for being at the outset on the wrong side. For a while. he gave me the cold shoulder. But then we did speak, and he let me know on no uncertain terms that it was difficult for him to be associated with me. He could be a blunt instrument, but he delivered his criticism very carefully – with passion and yet with a breadth of political insight that was rare and comprehensive. He managed to do it like I was a family member, even though I might end up excluded from his estate. He was, as I say, fierce. That look in his blue eyes, as he mulled over what you were telling him could be intimidating – I explained that to him as a way of saying that there were many in the community I believed who cherished him, especially kids, they would listen in awe! He was much venerated in the Havurah. But it’s fair to say that he received what I imagine to be the response that other powerful teachers and prophetic types get along the way – adoration mixed with a bit of terror. I think there were times during which he may have liked more love and care from the Jewish community, Havurah included – but not everyone can sit in the court of this kind of nobility. Stew would play host, spin a Yiddish tale, invoke the self-mockery of the Old Country, but first he needed to trust you. He had been through too much to pretend that relationships not built on common political principles were solid. He was fierce in this business about entering into a friendship, and that fierce kind of “connection”, for myself, I fear will be irreplaceable. Here in Portland, of course, it was the Agenda context – in which Stew was instrumental – that gave him a Jewish orientation. He wanted the Jews to get it right! I know for a fact that he felt vindicated when the Jewish community came to accept the two-state solution, and even in his final days, when we shook our heads about the ascendancy of extremists, we knew in our hearts what Jews should be working for, and will ultimately recognize is right is what works for both Israelis and Palestinians. Often he would point out that the work that we all did on behalf of bridging the gaps was important only if we were to get beyond paying lip service to coexistence. Stew didn’t want to give too much credit to the talkers. He was an activist, and there was no compromising over issues of peace and justice. There was the light-hearted side too: with good friends, over a good meal of pasta, seeing a film, any good film. There was nobody better to watch a foreign film with. All good films are about telling a story, and, I believe, they are inherently revisionist. And there is no telling the story today without bringing up Stew’s love for Judy. Lisa and I got married in Stew and Judy’s house, and it wasn’t just the beautiful living room that was the setting for our simcha. All we have to do is look at the pictures today to see who Stew and Judy were together. Words cannot describe the way he adored you, waited on you; and how much you nourished his soul, Judy. You took care of him. The glow in your eyes as a direct result of his charisma and the stature he earned way back then in the sixties; and his delight for you – the love of his life – and his satisfaction about the work you do today at Planned Parenthood – these things are the tip of the iceberg. You were inseparable, you had your own way of being together. You were the driver, but both of you were driving forces. You always glowed at his side, and I seldom, if ever, saw him make an important decision without first consulting you. This was a strong male who loved his partner and respected her own power. Jessica, apple of Stew’s eye. He so much wanted to be there for when you graduated law school. It was the source of so many funny introspective remarks, remarks overflowing always with pride. “My daughter Jessica. Studying the law. . . Oh, and she loves it,” he would say. “Well at least she has all these connections with my friends in Oakland politics who used to break the law,” he’d go on. He spoke glowingly of your accomplishments, your braininess. You would do great things! Oh, he was always happy when you were around, or coming into town. Did he ever give you a legacy, and you were his prodigy! And when you were parting, if only temporarily…. He had that way of standing in the doorway, watching and waiting, waving, while your car drove out of sight down the road. We all saw him do this for both of you. He loved you two so much. And you gave him so much in return. Hold onto that – it’s precious, a real blessing! I think, Jessica, it was you who pointed out, as we emerged from the funeral parlor two days ago on Hawthorne that the spectacular rainbow in the sky looked for a moment like it plunged onto the roof of the Chinese restaurant on Division where you guys used to eat together. We all cracked up, especially as you described the shrimp delicacies to me, an observant Jew – who would never end up eating there. Stew thought that literal observance was funny. We laughed about the fact that Stew hated melodrama too, and despised those occasions on which Havurah became what he considered “flaky” and faux-emotional. To him, it was egalitarianism taken to an extreme: Good to have equal rights, not so good to pretend that everyone automatically had equal stature! And here we found ourselves planning this Jewish ritual for him – he’d hate it, we imagined. Or would he? He’d love the music, and talk of the sixties. How was it possible that we couldn’t ask his advice about it? It didn’t make sense. I’d like to think of all those December 4th birthday parties as a form of Jewish ritual, the Portland Albert too, and God knows what we all need after last night is “The State of the Stew”. I miss Stew’s Uncle, though he’s been away for some time. And point of fact: No one could teach Torah, give a drash, any better than Stew around here, and I know for a fact that the two of you, Judy, studied Torah together for years every Shabbat. He would hate for me to make much of this, but I’ve often said that in another era – his voice would be a rabbinic voice. Stew was what we call a gadol. He was someone we all looked up to. Stew died early Monday morning, on the First of Shevat, the season when in Jewish tradition, mysteriously, the sap in the trees begins to come up, and we get (even in winter) a hint of better times to come. There is this story, that the Jews, on the other side of the Red Sea, immediately began griping again – what’s new – about the absence of water. We cannot yet say that they were thirsting, but they were certainly kvetching. And when they finally came to a place where there was water, it was bitter water. Marah, bitterness, defined the time and the place. “Feh,” Stew might say, out of hand. It’s a mind trap – a way of framing the problem, the political quandary. Well, according to the story, God showed Moses a tree and instructed him to throw it in the water, and thus the water was made sweet. The tree thrown into the water, according to the mystical tradition, is the Tree of Life – presumably it’s tossed in upside down. When things are turned on their head, as it seems right now, the waters don’t taste sweet. But if there is anything that Stew taught us, it is that they must be made sweet. This process often takes time and steadfast, radical effort. It is a process that brings us back to our roots. And it requires Abbie-Jerry-Stew humor, with an edge to it. See, this humor helps us to reframe the story, see it differently. The mystical commentator Ma’or VaShemesh explains why the Torah tells it that Moses was commanded to build the tabernacle – the cosmos in miniature – in accordance with a picture God actually showed him, laid out in detail: ?????? ?????? ????? ??????? ??????? Says the Torah: “Do it just as I’m showing you.” Some people interpret this verse literally, as if to say that there is only one way to see things. But in this teaching, one that Stew would understand, there are some who capture what needs to be done in the historical moment better than others: ??? ??? ?????? ?? ???? ????? ????? “It is the limitations of the prophet – the one telling us the story about what’s happening out there in the world – that determines how the tabernacle – the world – gets built.” In this sense, we all need to recognize our moral significance as storytellers, and this is a lesson we can learn from Stew Albert. He was our teacher, our friend, our satirist, our critic, devoted spouse and adoring father. His wild blond locks, his wisdom, his tough stand-off-ish fierceness, his loyal over-a-lifetime friendship – will be with us forever. May the roots of the tree bring sweetness to waters everywhere that long to be sweetened. And may our thirst for Truth, in Stew’s name, inspire us to pursue Peace for all.
SPEAKER: HAMMOND GUTHRIE HUAC 58 Years Letter
As my fingers plucked it from the letter box
the envelope and I began to sweat bullets -
HUAC was inviting me to attend the investigation
Cherokee DNA in my cellular magma,
Cousin Sam dead in the Alamo,
Cousin Woody singin' in heaven - and now this!
Grandma Ruchel came over from Minsk
Maybe we should go back -back to standing in line?
Invited to answer questions about what I ask?
So - I walked a few peace demonstrations
wrote a few poems too - big deal!
I calmed my steel -
this isn't all that bad,afterall -
I get a free trip to Washington
but the DC of peace parade
underground collectives is long over
In the old days I took target practice,
knew J. Edgar's ten best public enemies -
I was the genuine article trouble maker
Rotton apples running the show anyway,
buncha liars in dark panel suits -
who cares what they want?
Should I dress like an A-rab
carrying my own sand with me -
maybe show up with a camel or two?
Wait a second...
this letter is postmarked 1954 -
bit late don't ya think?
Now I remember, HUAC is deceased!
But - if HUAC sent me an e-mail
I'd answer it - and only if I wanted to
Falsifying paranoid dreams it seems
are still the price of security
here in the homeland
Now if I can just find my desk
I'll dive for cover
© 2003 - Hammond Guthrie & Stew Albert
STEWS FUNERAL: SPEAKER AND PARTICIPANT OVERVIEW. SONG: BOB DYLAN - Mr. Tambourine Man PROCLAMATION: Rabbi JOEY WOLF: Proclamation from the Oakland City Council, written by our long time friend Jane Brunner and her partner James, and signed by all the members of the Oakland City Council, proclaiming FEBRUARY 1, 2006 " STEW ALBERT DAY" in the City of Oakland, in recognition of his contributions, his humor and his good sense, his decency and his faith in what can be, what must be and what will be." POEM: HAMMOND Guthrie: -Poem that he and Stew wrote togther READING FROM WHO THE HELL: LESLIE KAY- Reading the section about how Stew and I met, lived in the cellar in New York and how we fell in love in Chicago in 1968 . SONG - PHIL OCHS: I ain't marching any more VIDEO -- Stew's 50th birthday ELEANOR LANGER - Stew & the Times JESSICA ALBERT -- Spontaneous remarks "I am Stew Albert's daughter" RABBI JOEY - Eulogy SONG - JUDY COLLINS SINGS LEONARD COHEN: That's the way to say goodbye RABBI JOEY & old friend RABBI MICHAEL LERNER -- Prayer: El Makai (?) Rachamin JOAN KENT KVITKA - Poem RABBI JOEY - Kaddish SONG - PAUL ROBESON (and those attending) sing JOE HILL as Stew's coffin is removed from the sanctuary. Special thanks to the pallbearers: Lenny Zeskind, Arthur Naiman, Hammon Guthrie & Dominic Nigro; to Jack Levine for so soulfully putting the music together on very short notice, to Arthur Naiman and Lucia Di Lisa of Imagine Productions in Portland for the wonderful video, to all the folks who came to town from Berkeley, Woodstock, Boulder and elsewhere and to everyone from around America and the globe who are sending condolences, flowers, greetings and regrets, and passing on the information to their friends. I will post more from the speakers as I receive them. We are still checking Stew's e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) so you may continue writing to that address for the next while. Judy
Day in the Life from Judy: Stew will be buried tomorrow in Jones Pioneer Cemetery in Portland. He will be wrapped in a tallis (Jewish prayer shaw), holding a stuffed flower from the Haight and wearing his kick-ass Frye boots and our wedding ring. Here is what is being written about him:
From The Oregonian
'Yippie' leader departs with idealism intact
Radical - Activist Stew Albert continued to pursue social change long after the 1960s ended
He ran the Yippie Reading Room online and continued to blog until the day before his death, at http://members.aol.com/stewa/stew.html
From Robert Greenwald, producer of Steal This Movie and the Wal*Mart documentary
I first met Stew when I decided to make a film about Abbie Hoffman. Stew became an inspiration, a model, a guide and a constant thorn in the side of self-seriousness throughout the process of developing and shooting Steal This Movie.
I will always remember his arrival on the set with his partner Judy and the cast’s initial nervous excitement about meeting Stew and Judy. Donal Logue, who was playing Stew was very concerned about portraying him accurately. Within an hour, Stew and Judy were embraced by the cast and pushed for details of what the ‘60s were really like. Everyone from Vincent D’Onofrio who played Abbie, to Janeane Garofalo who played Anita Hoffman, surrounded them and spent hours in intense and ultimately completely inspiring conversation.
Stew walked the walk, not just talked the talk. His warmth, passion and great prankster nature were with him until the end. He has inspired me, he has taught me and he will be missed dearly. We need all our heroes.
Stew Albert 1939-2006
“My politics have not changed.”
So read the simple blog entry by Stew Albert on January 28, 2006. Two days later, he died in his sleep at his home in Portland, Oregon, surrounded by his wife Judy Albert, daughter Jessica and friends. Suffering from cancer and unable to write at length, he was clearly determined to make a statement – a last stand -- that blended the legendary Yippie’s defiance and wit. As if his politics would ever change!
For the Yippies – the Youth International Party -- the word “party” meant both political group and outrageously good time. The Yippies merged left-wing activism and freak culture in the late 1960s. One of the “non-leaders” along with Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Paul Krassner was another party animal -- equally irresponsible for the chaos and comedy: Stew Albert, a fierce soldier for justice as well as subversive prankster.
Born on December 4, 1939 in Brooklyn to a working-class family, Stew was genetically nonconformist – a natural blonde Jew. In 1960, he visited the young, idealistic revolutionary Cuba and it derailed his plans for civil servitude. “I saw people living exciting, meaningful lives not based on self-promotion or small-time ideology,” he later wrote. After a failed attempt at reintegrating into normalcy, he got bit by wanderlust and ended up in Berkeley, California working for the anti-war Vietnam Day Committee whose most effective founding member was Jerry Rubin. Soon, Stew and Jerry were best friends and Stew was in the thick of Berkeley’s cannabinoided counter-culture. Despite his “growing rage” at America’s war on Vietnam, his “private joy was complete.” In 1966, his pal Rubin ran for Mayor of Berkeley and Stew became campaign manager and created a campaign that advocated social justice, an end to war and racism as well as the legalization of marijuana – a brave, new demand – and he laid out the campaign pamphlet in a decidedly psychedelic style. The same year, Rubin was called before the commie-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee and he showed up wearing a Revolutionary War costume. These examples of performance politics successfully blew the minds of the congressional creeps and thrilled young anti-war activists by establishing a new tactic – capture their imaginations and their hearts will follow.
In preparation for a march on the Pentagon, Stew and Jerry flew to New York City in the summer of 1967 and befriended a fellow longhaired, wisecracking troublemaker named Abbie Hoffman. Stew, Jerry, Abbie, Jim Fouratt, and others descended on the visitor’s gallery of the New York Stock Exchange and showered 500 one-dollar bills onto the floor below. For the first time in Wall Street’s history, trading stopped on the floor while the greedheads went grabby ga-ga for the green. This merry band had pulled down the curtain on the wizards of capitalism and the media lapped up the story.
In October of that year, Stew helped organize the massive March on the Pentagon. Stew, Jerry, Abbie, along with Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs and others, announced that they were going to exorcise the Pentagon of evil spirits and levitate it. Again, the story made for thrilling press. By the end of 1967, these characters, along with Paul Krassner, Allen Ginsberg, Phil Ochs, Bob Fass, Anita Hoffman, Nancy Kurshan, Kate Coleman, Keith and Judy Lampe, and others, signed a unified statement of purpose and announced themselves as Yippie, a name thought up by Krassner.
The Yippies began planning a Festival of Life for the Democratic Convention in August of 1968. The idea was to present a counterpoint to the Convention of Death hosted by the politicians who’d brought us the war in Vietnam. That year marked another watershed event in Stew’s life when he met fellow traveler Judy Clavir in Berkeley, a love story that lasted his entire life. Judy, later dubbed “Gumbo” by Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, became his mate and a renowned activist in her own right.
Stew contributed Pigasus to The Festival of Life, an actual pig that he and Jerry announced was the Yippie candidate for president. The pig was later detained by the police and squealed in custody. The counter-convention devolved into a police riot where thousands of demonstrators – including Stew -- were savagely beaten in what was dubbed “a police riot” by a federal commission. Undeterred by the facts, the government prosecuted a group of the organizers for conspiracy to riot in what became known as the Chicago 8 (later 7) trial. Abbie and Jerry were two of the indictees and Stew was named an unindicted co-conspirator (evidently two Yippies were sufficient). The Chicago Conspiracy Trial became known as “The Trial Of The Century” and eventually all charges were dropped.
Stew cut a swath across the planet. He ended up in London on the David Frost Show (along with limey accomplices including writer/rocker Mick Farren) where he actually made a history book for being The First Person To Say ‘Cunt’ On British Television. He traveled to Algeria to facilitate escaped fugitive Timothy Leary’s exile, where Leary stayed with another exile, Eldridge Cleaver. (Of all the Yippies, Stew was the closest to the Black Panthers, particularly Cleaver.) He enlisted John Lennon and Yoko Ono in a “Beatle/Yippie pact” that resulted in Lennon’s radicalization and near-deportation.
Beyond YIP, he ran for Sheriff of Alameda County (and lost, but carried Berkeley), where he’d earlier done months of jail time for general agitation. With compadre and folksinger Phil Ochs, he traveled to Chile before the CIA-backed coup. When he implemented DIY egalitarianism by helping create People’s Park in Berkeley, then-Governor Ronald Reagan responded to the unsanctioned green space by bringing in the National Guard and turning the streets into a war zone.
While living in the Catskills, Judy discovered a tracking device connected to their car, placed by the FBI. She and Stew eventually sued the FBI for illegal surveillance -- and won (proving there’s a damn good reason the feds need judicial warrants). In 1977, their daughter Jessica Pearl Albert was born. Stew went on to become a private eye and reconnected with his Jewish roots. He was played by actor Donal Logue in the Abbie biopic Steal This Movie in 2000.
Through the years, Stew never stopped thirsting for peace and justice. He became a mentor and friend to younger activists, from the L.A. Cacophony Society to myriad anarchists. Young people from all over the world corresponded with Stew, asking about Yippie and seeking advice on contemporary shit-stirring. He continued to write extensively, publishing The Sixties Papers with Judy and his autobiography Who The Hell Is Stew Albert?
After being diagnosed with Hepatitis C, he spent the last year enduring chemotherapy. Just as he completed his treatment and was given a clean bill of health, he was diagnosed with liver cancer last December. It was a cruel twist, but in an e-mail to friends he was determined to confront it head-on and with humor. “I am still a Yippie,” he noted. A week before his death, he gave a two hour plus interview to a film crew making a documentary about the Yippies and although he was clearly tired and in pain, he remained powerful, insightful, unrepentant, and funny as hell. As he wrote in his autobiography, he had “an uncontainable need to test my bravery,” something he did until the end.
And as the man said, his politics never changed.
----- Michael Simmons
If you choose, contributions honoring Stew's life and times may be made to Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette, 3231 SE 50th, Portland OR 97213 or the Rosenberg Fund for Children, 116 Pleasant St. # 3312 Easthampton MA 01027
Day in the Life: Stew died today, January 30, 2003 at 3:20 a.m, age 66. Peacefully, in his sleep, surrounded by Judy, Jessica and his many friends. Funeral services this Wednesday, Feb. 1 at Havurah Shalom in Portland. More will be posted.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Day in the Life: Super crazy thing. The hospice nurse had to do more. Still me. Still me.