Stew Albert, Drug War Victim

Dana Beal dana at
Fri Feb 3 12:19:36 EST 2006

Ironically, Stew Albert, who was on the wrong side of the split with  
High Times founder / zippie breakaway leader Tom Forcade, and missed  
the early stirrings of the harm reduction movement, contracted Hep C  
shooting coke with a dirty needle and died from consequent liver  
cancer, even though he'd beaten the virus with the usual, extremely  
debilitating chemo.

Too bad. He only recently really learned of ibogaine, but he was a  
supporter of reconciliation among the Yippies, and therefore rejected  
the anti-Vietnam purists who still say opposition to the Drug War was  
never legitimate Yippie politics.

His memorial in Portland was attended by Rocky and Aivia, my  
daughter, on behalf of the Ibogaine movement. I will miss him.

Dana Beal
Cures not Wars
co-Founder, Youth International Party

Stew Albert, 66, Who Used Laughter to Protest a War, Dies

Published: February 1, 2006 NYTIMES
Stew Albert, who with Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and a handful of  
similarly scruffy, leftist anti-establishmentarians formed the Yippie  
party to protest the Vietnam War, mock institutional authority and  
nominate a pig, Pigasus, for president, died on Monday at his home in  
Portland, Ore. He was 66.
The cause was liver cancer, said his wife, Judy Gumbo Albert.
Mr. Albert was not as famous as Mr. Hoffman or Mr. Rubin, nor did he  
dream up the nickname for their Youth International Party: Paul  
Krassner did.
But Mr. Albert was a leader of the Yippies, inasmuch as there were  
leaders, from before the formal hatching of the self-styled gang of  
political absurdists in January 1968 until they faded away after  
It was he who lectured the 82nd Airborne on the larger lessons of the  
Lone Ranger during the March on the Pentagon in 1967, and he who  
caused considerable laughter after Yippies were arrested after  
nominating Pigasus outside the Democratic National Convention in  
Chicago in 1968.
Afterward, he quoted a policeman's comment while he was in jail: "I  
have bad news for you, boys. The pig squealed on you."
When it came to what were called New Left politics, Mr. Albert did  
not miss much. He participated in demonstrations for free speech at  
Berkeley; dropped money from the balcony of the New York Stock  
Exchange to satirize capitalism; befriended Black Panthers; and was  
investigated in connection with bombing the United States Capitol but  
never charged with it.
His close friends included Tom Hayden, a protest leader who became a  
conventional politician; Phil Ochs, the folk singer; Allen Ginsberg,  
the poet; William Kunstler, the radical lawyer; and Bobby Seale, the  
Black Panther. He went to Algeria to facilitate the introduction of  
Timothy Leary, the LSD advocate, to the exiled Eldridge Cleaver, a  
Panther leader.
When the police clubbed Mr. Albert in the head at the Chicago  
convention, he felt it was almost worth it when the rogue writer  
William Burroughs patted him on the back and Jean Genet, also a  
writer known for unconventionality, said, "Not bad."
In 1970, shortly after being released from the Alameda County jail in  
California, Mr. Albert campaigned to replace the sheriff who had  
supervised his incarceration. He lost, but got 65,000 votes, and  
carried the city of Berkeley.
Steward Edward Albert was born in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of  
Brooklyn on Dec. 4, 1939. His father worked as a clerk for New York  
City, and his mother's strong anti-Communism came about partly  
because the Communists had a picnic on the beach on Yom Kippur. As a  
teenager, the young Mr. Albert enthusiastically supported the United  
States in the Korean War, but joined local protests against the  
execution of Caryl Chessman in California in 1960.
He attended James Madison High School and graduated from Pace  
University with a major in politics and philosophy. He worked in the  
city welfare department before buying a $99, 30-day bus ticket to go  
to San Francisco and heal a broken heart. He headed straight to City  
Lights bookstore, famed for its beatnik heritage, and met Mr. Ginsberg.
He soon went to Berkeley and befriended Mr. Rubin, who was a graduate  
student and social activist. Mr. Rubin wrote that the man he called  
Socrates Stew was a more effective educator than most professors as  
he sat behind a table for the Vietnam Day Committee engaging students.
After participating in Mr. Rubin's unsuccessful campaign for mayor of  
Berkeley and becoming a friend of Bobby Seale and other Panthers, Mr.  
Albert moved to New York in the spring of 1968 to organize antiwar  
demonstrations with Mr. Hoffman.
He lived in a rent-free cellar with his wife; she and their daughter,  
Jessica Pearl Albert, are his only immediate survivors.
Ms. Albert said the idea for the Chicago convention protest was to  
have a rock festival, but that organizers were repeatedly denied  
permits. Most bands, except for Country Joe and the Fish and MC-5,  
became uneasy about potential confrontation and pulled out.
The protests involved many parties, but the Yippies got much of the  
publicity. Some leftists resented them because they believed their  
antics trivialized serious issues. Mainstream observers, like  
Theodore H. White, writing in "The Making of the President, 1968"  
were unimpressed for different reasons. He called the Yippies "a  
strolling farce of lost and forlorn people."
Eight protesters were charged with conspiring to riot. After Mr.  
Seale was dropped from the group, the remaining seven were tried in a  
trial lasting five months. Five were convicted, but these convictions  
were reversed.Mr. Albert was an unindicted co-conspirator. His wife  
said the reason was that he was working as a correspondent for The  
Berkeley Barb, a status that raised free-press issues.
In 1971, Mr. Albert appeared before grand juries investigating the  
bombing of a bathroom in the United States Capitol and an alleged  
plot to bomb a Manhattan bank. He was not charged in either case.
In 1978, the F.B.I. fired two supervisors for illegally planting  
listening devices in a home where Mr. Albert was living in the  
For the last 21 years, Mr. Albert lived in Portland, where he wrote  
articles and books, ran a Web site and participated in organizations  
fostering racial harmony.
Last Friday, in his next-to-last blog entry, he wrote, "My politics  
have not changed."

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