Jerry Rubin: Self‑Portrait of a Child of "Amerika," 1970
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the catalyst for the new student left, was dedicated throughout its early history to a more or less traditional politics of organiation and struggle. Rebels like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, on the other hand, owed more to the new cultural radicalism. The following excerpt from Rubin’s book, Do it! Scenes of a Revolution (1970) captures the emphasis of the new “Counterculture” on theatricality and self-expression. (ed.)
I am a child of Amerika.
If I'm ever sent to Death Row for my revolutionary "crimes," I'll order
as my last meal: a hamburger, french fries and a Coke. I dig big cities.
I love to read the sports pages and gossip columns, listen to the radio
and watch color TV.
I dig department stores, huge supermarkets and airports. I feel secure (though not necessarily hungry) when I see Howard Johnson's on the expressway.
I groove on Hollywood movies‑even bad ones.
I speak only one language‑English.
I love rock 'n' roll.
I collected baseball players' cards when I was a kid and wanted to play second base for the Cincinnati Reds, my home team.
I got a car when I was sixteen after flunking my first driver's test and crying for a week waiting to take it a second time.
I went to the kind of high school where you had to pass a test to get
I graduated in the bottom half of the class.
My classmates voted me the "busiest" senior in the school.
I had short, short, short hair.
I dug Catcher in the Rye.
I didn't have pimples.
I became an ace young reporter for the Cincinnati Post and Times‑Star. "Son," the managing editor said to me, "someday you're going to be a helluva reporter, maybe the greatest reporter this city's ever seen."
I loved Adlai Stevenson.
My father drove a truck delivering bread and later became an organizer in the Bakery Drivers' Union. He dug Jimmy Hoffa (so do I). He died of heart failure at fifty‑two.
My mother had a college degree and played the piano. She died of cancer at the age of fifty‑one.
I took care of my brother, Gil, from the time he was thirteen.
I dodged the draft.
I went to Oberlin College for a year, graduated from the University of Cincinnati, spent 11/z years in Israel and started graduate school at Berkeley.
1 dropped out.
I dropped out of the White Race and the Amerikan nation.
I dig being free.
I like getting high.
I don't own a suit or tie.
I live for the revolution.
I'm a yippie!
I am an orphan of Amerika.