The 3rd Page: Have you given any interviews recently?
Stew: Yes, here are a couple of fairly recent on-line interviews.
[ on Interview #1 by Freespeech.org ]
The 3rd Page: In this interview you were asked: FS: Are there any Yippie groups still active? You answered: I know of a group in Los Angeles. They dress up like clowns and make trouble but they don't call themselves "Yippies." Still there is a great resemblance.
The 3rd Page: Have you remembered the name of this "group in Los Angeles?" I believe there is another such group of clowns operating in San Francisco.
Stew: I met an LA clown activist -- journalist Michael Simmons introduced us -- he might remember the name, I don't -- but do I remember the clown activist telling me there were groups like them active elsewhere. He also said something that might be a bit surprising -- from his experiences people are actually afraid of clowns.
The 3rd Page: Yes, this is called: "coulrophobia," which can persist in even the funniest of people.
Stew: That's very interesting.
[ on Interview #2 by Salon.com ]
The 3rd Page: This interview includes a photo of you and Jerry Rubin taken in 1970. In the photo you are holding a book. What book is this and was it any good?
Stew: The photo was taken when Jerry and I flew into NYC just after being deported from England because of the David Frost Show riot. The title of the book is The Enemy, by Felix Greene (novelist Gr. Greene's brother). Felix, who we both knew from the time he lived in Palo Alto, gave us the book in London. It's about American imperialism, and while not very original, it was interesting.
[ on The New Yorker interview ]
Stew: And how could I have forgotten the interview with the New Yorker? They were preparing a profile on Michael Moore.
The 3rd Page: Why were you interviewed by the New Yorker for this?
Stew: The NewYorker person came across my website and my review of Moore's most recent book. She was interested in what I had to say about him and the similarity of his theatrical/comical political style with that of the Yippies. I think Moore does great work. The point that I made in the interview is Michael Moore is a contradictory guy. His public style is proletarian (since dropped) and his political style is very 'Yippie-like' -- but he is also a wealthy business man who has employees vs. comrades.
The 3rd Page: When was the first time you were ever interviewed?
Stew: On the Berkeley campus. I was sitting behind the Vietnam Day Committee table and some local radio guy approached me with a few questions. I answered them and he closed the bit by calling me a leader. That was the first time anybody called me a "leader," of any sort and I was concerned that the established VDC leaders would be pissed off by my talking on the radio and being described in the way. But Jerry and the others were quite supportive.
The 3rd Page: What was the strangest interview you have ever given?
Stew: Two strange interviews come to mind. One was with a Korean guy who worked for a Rev Moon-owned paper in NYC. Judy and I were suing the government for the FBI break-ins into our mountain cabin and this reporter kept asking me technical legal questions about our courtroom strategy that clearly were prepared for him by a government lawyer. New to this country he would never have had the legal background to ask those questions on his own. I cut the interview short when I figured out his game. The interview never appeared in this paper.
Another one is more mysterious. I was interviewed by a Soviet reporter about the state of the American peace movement (in 1966) and I answered his questions in depth. Later I found out that while he was (as he said) from Pravda he also was from the KGB. I don't know if his article ever appeared but I wonder who read his reports.
Stew: Adam Dubin is a filmmaker who wants to interview me for a documentary he is making about John and Yoko. His questions will be about my impressions of them on the human level vs. interesting gossip.
The 3rd Page: Do you have any interesting gossip about John & Yoko to share?
Stew: Yeah, well John sort of opted for mommy over the boys in the band. The key to the John-Yoko relationship was that Yoko acted like his mother -- she really took care of him in ways that Paul, George and Ringo could never have done.
Stew: The fellow who is interviewing me for this documentary will be putting Judy and me up in a fine mid town hotel. And of course this means discount tickets to a Broadway show and a visit to a comedy club. Maybe we'll build up the will power to visit Ground Zero.
The 3rd Page: This is a terrific opportunity for you. What shows would you like to see on Broadway? And if you visit Ground Zero, please take a snapshot for this interview.
Stew: We've heard a lot about Spamalot -- It's a Python thing -- but we can't afford tickets unless we get them for discount. Otherwise we'll listen to what the film guy suggests. If we do ground zero - sure, we will get a pic.
Ground Zero Memorial
Stew: I received a copy of the questions I'm going to be asked when I'm interviewed in NYC for the film about John Lennon and his political run in with the Nixon administration. I was an insider to all these goings on. I also received copies of some FOIA obtained FBI files on Lennon, Yoko, Jerry Rubin and me and they are dumb to the max. In fact I've never read more misinformed FBI files -- their "informants" must have included The Three Stooges.
The 3rd Page: What sort of questions did they ask?
Stew: Some standard stuff of course about my childhood, how I became a Yippie, the Chicago 68 riots, how I met John and Yoko and about the David Frost Show riot and why John liked it. What is was like to go around New York with them, what it was like to hang out in their apartment, and a very interesting question about whether or not I ever thought that I was using them for Yippie political purposes? The answer is yes and I didn't think this was a bad thing provided the Yippies didn't push to hard and not take John and Yoko's political agenda into the consideration. Balance and compromise was necessary.
The 3rd Page: What was the first thing you noticed in their apartment?
Stew: The general modesty, not at all luxurious. It had a genial bohemian look and right on the heels of that -- I noticed the large bed and giant television which was at the foot of the bed and always on.
The 3rd Page: Do you remember what sort of programs were on the tv?
Stew: They liked to watch mass entertainment discussion shows, where expert guests and the audience would interact.
The 3rd Page: Did you 'turn on' with them?
Stew: I never watched their television but I certainly got stoned with them on many occasions.
The 3rd Page: Perfect answer!
The 3rd Page: What are you reading right now?
Stew: I'm reading Lewis Black's Nothing's Sacred. He's that ranting hilarious curmudgeon on The Daily Show. Actually he's a nice guy who spent his youth in the '60s, politics, and acid et al. He was strongly influenced by Paul Krassner. The book (an autobiography) is funny, intelligent and well worth the read. Black is friends with the guy who is going to interview me for the John & Yoko film. That's how we came by a signed copy.
The 3rd Page: What did Lewis Black write in the inscription?
Stew: For Stew & Judy Albert - Lewis Black. Appropriately he used black ink. I would like to meet him -- he seems interesting.
Stew: A TV crew visited during the last days of my chemotherapy treatments for hepatitis-C to interview me about Abbie [Hoffman]. The show wound up on the Biography Channel. They asked me about Yippie happenings -like the Stock Market money throwing event.
The 3rd Page: How much money did you throw over the balcony?
Stew: About 150 bucks - the brokers lost interest when we ran out of paper and started throwing spare change. The event received world wide publicity.
Stew: A TV crew for A&E interviewed Judy and I about our relationship, it was for a 'Love in America' series.
The 3rd Page: What is the secret of a good and long lasting relationship?
Stew: Lots of common interests and experiences along with a similar strain of madness.
Stew: A British crew interviewed me about counter cultural politics and consumerism (very high brow stuff).
The 3rd Page: What did you tell them?
Stew: The guy was doing a piece about "consumerism." His thesis was that the individualism of the '60s and the belief that taking drugs, listening to music and wearing certain clothing laid the foundations for a new and more addictive form of consumerism. Although he was working for mainstream TV, the guy told me he was a Marxist. I responded that their were both passive and active forms of counter culture -- and our creating People's Park along with underground newspapers and radio stations (and the like) was not a breeding ground for any kind of "consumerism" even if we did get stoned and dig sounds in the process of our creative work. I did admit that the 'better living through chemistry' part of the counter culture might have had aspects that would later contribute to consumerism. I recalled that I once told Jerry Rubin, I didn't want the main function of counter culture to become something that essentially created a "hipper life" for rich kids.
This interview is now part of a documentary film playing in a NYC theater. It's called Century Of The Self. I found out about it via Google - which sent me to a review of the film in the Village Voice --and where I am quoted - I guess, as I coined the phrase: "socialism in one person" -- The Voice quotes it from the film Steal This Movie. When I did the interview I had no idea it would (after playing on Brit TV) wind up as a film in the States.
The 3rd Page: Has anyone from Hollywood contacted you?
Stew: Yes. The movie director J. Everett wrote to me after he viewed Steal This Movie and wanted to know how accurate it was? I really can't count the number of times I've been asked this question via email. The film continues to circulate and so the question keeps getting asked.
[ Stolen Photo ]
The 3rd Page: Well, how accurate is it?
Stew: For a Hollywood film it is very accurate. On Yippie activism it has things in the right order, throwing money at the Stock Exchange came before levitating the Pentagon, which came before the Chicago riots, which of course came before the Conspiracy Trial. The film gets that all correct and in sequence. On the more person stuff, it does well for instance with Abbie's emotional breakdown, although some of the events are presented as a composite, putting a bunch of things together that happened separately, that sort of thing.
The 3rd Page: What about India? Has anyone from 'Bollywood' contacted you?
Stew: No, but a Japanese film crew asked me about the Yippies not long ago.
The 3rd Page: What did the Japanese crew know about the Yippies before the interview?
Stew: Quite a bit actually. They had read Abbie and Jerry's books and looked at lots of new video. They were working for the Japanese equivalent of public television and were quite a likable bunch.
Stew: Not long ago the LA Times interviewed me about the Yippies and Disneyland.
The 3rd Page: Did the Yippies get to speak with Walt Disney?
Stew: No. The Yippies had a demonstration at Disneyland that closed the place down. Public dope smoking etc. One of the reasons it was an interesting event was because none of the well known Yippie personalities (including myself) were involved. The Times wanted to know what I thought about it (and what Jerry and Abbie thought).
The 3rd Page: What didn't you all think about it?
Stew: I suppose we didn't think it was good that we weren't there.
Stew: High school and college kids interview me about the '60s and the yippies for reports, papers and some for their senior thesis.
The 3rd Page: Where are they from - all over the country or in particular areas?
Stew: They don't usually come from big cities or famous places. They come from smaller places, towns and out of way suburbs in Texas, Alabama, the Midwest, obscure colleges and places in Canada I never heard of. Sure, I get some email questions from NY or LA but not that many. And then there is the occasional Ph.D. thesis inquiry as well.
Stew: My daughter just conducted a brief (put on) interview with me via instant message.
The 3rd Page: Who wasn't she representing?
Stew: Mad Magazine! -- No, she just did it for a laugh to imitate the interviews of others which have always amused her.
Stew Albert Q & A - 2005
Stew: I got another request for a film interview. With documentaries in fashion, this is my second request for the summer. The first one will bring Judy and me to NYC and the second will be done here in Portland. It's amazing that after all these years some people still want to know what I know.
The 3rd Page: And just what do you know?
Stew: I guess I have an insiders view of what went on among the characters who had so a big part in shaping the counter politics and culture of the '60s. I know (beyond the myths) about real motivations, character quirks and actual intentions. Additionally so many others who shared in this cabal knowledge are dead.
I am one of the last guys standing.
The 3rd Page: How did the interview in NYC go?
Stew: The interview for the movie documentary went very well and it caused White Panther co-founder and former MC5 manager John Sinclair, Judy and I to have a very warm reunion.
The 3rd Page: What is John Sinclair doing now?
Stew: He doesn't seem to have a fixed place. Does some writing and public speaking, and keeps tabs with the music world. He seems mellower than in the old days, more laid back.
[ Ed. note: John Sinclair is currently based in Amsterdam. ]
The 3rd Page: Speaking of White Panthers, do you know whatever happened to co-leader Pun Plamondon? At last report he was still deeply buried underground after he reportedly blew up the C.I.A. building in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1969.
Stew: Pun beat the CIA charge. Afterwards, he became a roadie for some rock bands and gradually began to identity with his Indian roots. Today he is a member of the Ottawa Tribe and is an official story teller for the tribe.
The 3rd Page: Wonderful.
Stew: Adam concluded his interview by asking me about my feelings when I learned of Lennon's murder. I said it wasn't just John that was killed but that the Beatles had been murdered as well. With his death, the possibility of a reunion performance or a new album went out the window. The Beatles were really and truly dead and a beautiful part of my life was reduced to a memory.
The 3rd Page: What is your fondest memory regarding the Beatles?
Stew: When Hard Day's Night came out. The critics came to mock just another bad rock n roll movie, and then left the theater(s) muttering about "comic genius" and the Marx Brothers being "born again." It was like Ali upsetting Liston -- all the pundits were shocked.
Stew: I got an email from a couple bicycling through America and picking up tales of counter culture from various and sundry characters they meet along the way. It sounds like a cross between an interview and a conversation. It should be interesting.
The 3rd Page: Do you know what they plan to do with their accumulation of tales?
Stew: They didn't say but they didn't mention a video camera so I suppose it's an article or a book. Although there was a tone in their e-mail that suggest it might just be for the hell of it. Here it is:
Dear Stew, Hey there from two traveling bicyclists! we're Liz and Bill, 27 and 25, and we're just biking around the country with a big sign that says "Talk To Me" just to talk to strangers and hear stories, and we thought we'd drop you a line since we just arrived in Eugene. We should be in town for at least a couple days.
[ Ed.: This couple eventually arrived in Portland and had their picture taken for the daily Oregonian holding a sign that read: "Talk To Me." ]
The 3rd Page: Did the couple riding through America with the "Talk To Me" sign visit you when the came to Portland?
Stew: Yes, they visited with me here at home, and "talked" with me. They did a taped interview, and have read quite a lot on the '60s including Judy's and my book The Sixties Papers. They were a lovable pair, amazing young people with fine imaginations, and picked up a copy of my memoir, Who The Hell Is Stew Albert? They asked me what I thought the main difference was between today's radicals and those of my generation. I spoke to the abysmal lack of a sense of humor in today's generation. They agreed, and said they too suffered from the "humorlessness" of their contemporaries.
The 3rd Page: Did they say where they were heading after Portland?
Stew: They talked about Montana, and maybe getting to Yellowstone and Wyoming.
Stew: In a few weeks we are going to have a coincidental invasion of old friends, all on different nights with nobody meeting anybody else. Panthers, Weathermen, and a lawyer. Come one come all. But not you retired FBI agents. You can have your own reunions!
The 3rd Page: Will anyone interview anyone?
Stew: Not formally, but these sorts of "catching up conversations" sometimes take on the spirit of an interview. Two of the visitors are people I have not seen for 35 years. I will write something about the encounters.
The 3rd Page: This should be interesting.
Stew: Two guys riding around on vegetable oil will also show up.
The 3rd Page: Tell me about these vegetable oil guys.
Stew: 'Twenty-ish' and very bright. They drove out from NY in a vegetable oil powered car. Devoted to the environmental cause of such vehicles, they are making a film based on interviews with past and present counter 'culturalists'. I think their primary reason for doing this is to learn from people how to build a vegetable oil power movement. They spent two hours questioning me on the '60s - why and how they happened and on my views about what is going on now. I gave them an idea that they should organize a "drive in" on Washington DC of automobiles that are vegetable powered throw in some marching bands, paint the cars wild, get lots of media coverage and have a great time. They liked the idea.
The 3rd Page: What sort of car was it?
Stew: A battered jalopy type of car -- the vegetable oil mechanism was built into the trunk. And that's where they store it. The back ends of restaurants have replaced the gas station for these guys. My next door neighbor got interested in the car and the guys showed it off. He was impressed that they were able to drive it here from NY on vegetable oil.
The 3rd Page: Okay, let's get on with the interview(s).
Stew: There might be another "John Lennon" interview. It's for a movie produced by Lion's Gate -- and this one has Yoko's support. I would have to fly to SF and back on the same day. I will not do it unless I'm paid and as I write this "negotiations" are proceeding. Actually the Lion's Gaters are having a meeting to decide if they will make me an offer.
The 3rd Page: What does it take to get Yoko's support?
Stew: Completely agreeing with her and doing her bidding in all relevant matters.
The 3rd Page: Did you contact Yoko when you were interviewed in NY about John?
Stew: Oh no and there was no point -- she had previously been contacted by the makers of that production. They invited her involvement but she never replied. Obviously it was because she had a deal with Lion's Gate, one where I'm sure she will have a lot of control. In any case, the last time I tried to have any contact with Yoko was in 1977, when I invited her and John to my wedding. I received no response.
The 3rd Page: Keep us posted on the upcoming interview.
[ 24 hrs. later ]
Stew: I just got the call from Lion's Gate. The session in San Francisco has been canceled. Now they are doing interviews in Santa Rosa (about an hour's drive from SF), because they want to interview Tommy Smothers and he won't leave his Santa Rosa home. So I'm supposed to fly to SF and rent a car and drive to Santa Rosa and then reverse the process going home. This is the first time I have been asked to fly someplace for an interview and not be picked up by the requester. And for all of this they would pay me $300 bucks.
Of course I don't drive any longer, so that meant a "no" from the top but I never would have agreed to this insulting proposal. The guy who made the pitch was embarrassed in the extreme, and then he made another offer. They will do another session in early October in LA, I could fly to that one and they would pick me up at the airport. I said that they just added on several hours of flying and I needed 500 bucks for my efforts. The guy pleaded poverty ("this is only a documentary") but said he would get back to me. I hope they say "no deal" to the 500 bucks because I really don't like working with these kind of people. Nobody can butter you up and at the same time treat you with total contempt better than Hollywood.
The 3rd Page: Why all the sudden interest in documenting Lennon?
Stew: Good question. Yoko put up a Broadway show that received very bad reviews -- but these documentary films are on the political part of Lennon. Maybe having Bush around has increased interest in the excesses of right wing government? But it's also safe to discuss Lennon's persecution because it happened a long time ago and Tricky Dick had to quit in disgrace.
[ 36 hrs. later ]
Stew: I just got a call from Lion's Gate. They agreed to the $500, so the interview is back on for sometime in early September.
The 3rd Page: News travels fast in Hollywood.
Stew: The Third Page got the exclusive though -- even ahead of my blog.
The 3rd Page: Yippie!
Stew: We just got home from east -- one of the highlights of our trip was running into three bears in the woods just outside of Woodstock -- fortunately they were in a good mood. We were reminded that the FBI agents who watched our cabin during the '70s (near Hurley NY) gave us the code name "Mama Bear and Papa Bear." (We learned this from our FBI files.) I guess they identified with Goldilocks when they burglarized us. Judy and I used to tell our then three-year-old daughter that there were three bears living on top of hill behind our cabin, Grumpy, Grumbo and little Granola. In those days there were no real bears in those woods, but the encroachments of Yuppies from NYC building many new houses in the woods, the disappearance of natural food supplies and a ton of new garbage has brought the bears down from the mountains. While we were gone the Bush empire took another hit with the indictment of Tom DeLay but Bush got Roberts on the Supreme Court and unless the Democrats catch fire nothing much good will happen except maybe a brief pause on the road to full fascism.
The 3rd Page: Did you manage to get to Washington DC for the Anti-war march?
Stew: We almost didn't get there because (due to an accidental power failure) no trains were running for Penn Station. So at 6.30 in the morning we rented a car and heroic Judy drove to DC. The demo was huge, maybe a couple of hundred thousand but strangely scattered and unfocused. I loved marching (we carried a '2 Oregonians for Peace' sign and someone asked if we walked all the way from Oregon) past the White House (we were surprisingly close) and shouting slogans. "Hey Hey Bush and DeLay, how many kids did you kill today!" And hearing Joan Baez sing 'Hard Rain Gonna Fall' at the rally was mind blowing. I loved being there, but I had a sad sense, it wouldn't do much good. And sure enough, the giant event was ignored by the media and Bush. Most Americans never heard of it or think it was very small. Back in the '60s I believed every demo I went to would change the world, so my pessimistic feelings surprised me.
2 Oregonians 4 Peace
The 3rd Page: What are your plans now?
Stew: I'm going to fly to LA and back on Monday for the Lion's Gate Lennon interview.
The 3rd Page: When was the last time you were in LA and what were you doing there?
Stew: Steal This Movie was having its LA debut in 2000 and I went down there to attend the event. I also did a bunch of dual interviews along with Donal Logue, the guy who played me in the movie. CNN featured us.
The 3rd Page: What else has Donal Logue been in - or better yet, who is Donal Logue?
Stew: He was born in the mid '60s in Canada. He usually plays character roles. He stared in The Tao Of Steve which was an indy super hit and he had a lead part in the TV sitcom Grounded For Life. He's a talented, idealistic nice guy who first developed a rep by playing the crazy cab driver on MTV commercials.
The 3rd Page: How did the interview in LA go?
Stew: Actually I was in Burbank. I started out seriously doubting the seriousness of this project, but I've since changed my mind. The questions were in great depth trying to sort out Lennon's motivations along with Abbie's, Jerry's, Yoko's and my motivations as well -- what brought us all together, what our plans were at the time, what did we actually do and lastly why did we fall apart? I think that the fact that I had done the earlier interview in NY for another Lennon film warmed up my brain to this subject. When the interview was concluded I actually received applause from everyone in the darkened studio.
New York City 2005
photo(s) by Judy Gumbo