Flushing a Movement

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks

Paul Krassner reviews Pat Thomas’ book, Did It! From Yippie To Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, An American Revolutionary,.


Hippies, radicals, pranksters: Jerry Rubin has a bio and Paul Krassner has our review
by Paul Krassner
Jacket Copy, Los Angeles Times
August 31, 2017

Jerry Rubin (right) and Paul Krassner share a joint in the late ’60s. (Fantagraphics Books, Inc.)

Pat Thomas, the author of “Did It! From Yippie To Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, An American Revolutionary,” had noticed that there were six books about co-activist Abbie Hoffman, but none about Jerry Rubin, so Thomas welcomed the challenge. Seventy-five co-conspirators were interviewed for revealing anecdotes galore (including me), and this tome is a unique oral and visual history heavy enough to sink into your coffee table.

Rubin had written a few books himself, though. The first was 1970’s “DO iT!” Under the influence of Ritalin, he recorded all the material swirling in his mind, and his girlfriend Nancy Kurshan transcribed 700 pages that had to be severely trimmed down. That book was heiress Patty Hearst’s favorite, radicalizing her, especially the part about rebelling against elite parents.

In January 1964, Rubin was 26 with a thick handlebar mustache, bored as a journalist for the Cincinnati Post. He moved to UC Berkeley for grad school, but dropped out during his first semester. He then asked so many questions about local politics, filling his notebook so much, that several activists thought he was a cop. But by May 1965, at the Berkeley campus he had organized a Vietnam teach-in, the largest in the U.S.

He called me in New York, inviting me to speak there. I urged him to also contact folksinger Phil Ochs, who could perform appropriate songs between speeches. Rubin had never heard of Ochs, but he accepted my suggestion. They would eventually become deep friends.

When Rubin was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, he wore a rented American Revolutionary costume, and he gave out copies of the Declaration of Independence. As the marshals carried him out, he yelled, “I want to testify!” He had manipulated the media to spread his patriotic message on radio, TV and the front pages of newspapers across the country. Read the rest of this review here.

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