The sweet bird of peace grows older

jerry-rubin-almtz.jpgA friend who does not believe in anti-war marches, passive resistance or the dignity of going to jail for a cause recently had some good words to say about Santa Monica's last peace activist Jerry Rubin.

He said, "You've got to hand it to the guy. He's going to be 70 years old and doesn't look a day over 75."

Rubin, that funny little bearded guy who never wears anything but shorts and a T-shirt, is going to be 70? True. And to celebrate he is beginning a 100-day fast leading up to his December birthday, at which time there will be a big party that the whole world is invited to attend.

There will be singing and dancing and speeches and perhaps even a few tears shed for peace, which is pretty much non-existent in the world at the moment. At any rate, it will be a celebration of Rubin as a sort of sweet bird of peace in Santa Monica for the past 35 years.

Meanwhile, he's still out there almost every weekend at a card table near Johnnie's Pizza on the Third Street Promenade, selling bumper stickers, badges, peace symbol replicas and other items of a liberal nature designed to declare one's intention to also save Mother Earth, support women's causes, end capital punishment, house the homeless and turn toy guns into, well, toy plowshares I guess.

His 100-day fast, which begins next Tuesday, is his fortieth. He started out fasting for the old Alliance for Survival and has been at it ever since, making a name for himself by being arrested a dozen times for protesting a variety of attacks on peace, and for mounting six noisy campaign for a seat on the Santa Monica City Council and one run for Congress. He lost them all.

Rubin can be an aggressive advocate for non-violence but I have seen him in a subdued state too when I got him together with the "real" Jerry Rubin, the 1960s radical, who had come to L.A. selling a health powder called "Wow." Our Rubin withered in the presence of the Real Rubin who was in Our Rubin's face for about two hours telling him how just about everything ought to be done.

It was a little like Moses in the Sinai Desert bumping unexpectedly into God.

The Real Rubin was killed a few days later trying to cross Wilshire Blvd. in a sort of last act of defiance. He gave the finger to the commute traffic and began to stride across the boulevard against the red light when whamo, there was one less Jerry Rubin in the world.

I have sat with the Remaining Rubin more than once, having lunch while he fasted, watching every bite I took and drooling at the very sight of my teeth sinking into a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich. It was the closest I have ever come to enjoying torture.

I'll leave It to his wife of 30 years, Marissa, to make certain he doesn't sneak in a slice of pepperoni pizza or a double burger during the 100-day fast. Credibility is everything in the peace biz.

Photo of Jerry Rubin: Marty Rubin


More by Al Martinez:
The damndest cold man ever caught
Trees, Fire and War in (the) Topanga
Korea: Memories of a distant thunder
Up and dry: In search of the imperfect martini
The Hollywood connection, baby
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