New: Celebrating Stew Albert
(December 4, 1939 – January 30, 2006)

By Gar Smith
Friday January 28, 2011 - 04:49:00 PM

Stewart Edward "Stew" Albert was a Brooklyn-born, Berkeley-bred anti-war political activist, poet and publisher in the 1960s. Stew made the trek to San Francisco in 1965 and, within days of running into poet Allen Ginsberg at the City Lights Bookstore, he was working with the Vietnam Day Committee. (The VDC went on to host a historic Teach-In on the Berkeley campus with speeches from Norman Mailer and Ken Kesey and songs by Phil Ochs). It was in Berkeley that Stew met Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman — and joined them in co-founding the Youth International Party (aka the “Yippies”). 

Stew was to be found in the midst of all the major Yippie pranks, from tossing money off the New York Stock Exchange balcony to the attempted “Exorcism of the Pentagon” and the Yippies’ 1968 Presidential campaign that saw a pig nominated to serve as the country’s Commander-in-Chief. Stew was busted outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention while covering the event for the Berkeley Barb (the country’s first “underground” newspaper) and named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Chicago Seven case. When the unpaid staff of the Barb went out on strike, Stew became editor of the rival Berkeley Tribe, which soon had a circulation of 53,000 copies. 

In 1970, Stew ran for Alameda Country Sheriff and came in second. Back in his outlaw mode, it was Stew who abetted an international fugitive when he arranged for Eldridge Cleaver to offer a Tunisian sanctuary to Timothy Leary after the latter’s escape from a California prison. In the early 1970s, Stew and his wife, Judy Gumbo Albert, successfully sued the FBI for planting an illegal wiretap in their home and won a $20,000 settlement. Two FBI supervisors were subsequently fired for the crime. 

In 1984, Stew and Judy co-edited The Sixties Papers: Documents of a Rebellious Decade, a compendium of writings from the Civil Rights Movement, Students for a Democratic Society, the anti-war movement, the counterculture, and the women's movement. In 2006, two days before he died of liver cancer, Stew posted one final, rebellious declaration on his blog: "My politics haven't changed." His memoir, Who the Hell is Stew Albert?, is available from Red Hen Press

For more on Stew’s life, see Richard Brenneman’s 2006 memorial in the Berkeley Daily Planet: http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2006-02-03/article/23349?headline=Stew-Albert-Activist-1939-2006-By-RICHARD-BRENNEMAN&status=301 

Judy Gumbo Remembers Her Partner, Stew 

Stew’s wife and partner, Judy Gumbo Albert, is completing a book called Yippie Girl — an insider’s memoir of love and friendship among the Yippies and other romantic revolutionaries of the late 1960s. You can contact her at: www.yippiegirl.com. Judy recently posted a collection of unpublished poems in her husband’s memory, along with this message to friends and colleagues: 

I can't believe Stew's been gone for five years, but it's true. This Sunday, January 30, 2011, is the fifth anniversary of his passing. In our house we celebrated Stew's birthday as if it was a national holiday. Stew wrote a lot of political poems. He also wrote family poems to Jessica and me. I’d cry every time he'd give me one. To commemorate his life, I put these never-before-published poems up on my website. Here's the link: 


— Judy Gumbo Albert 



Some Poems from Stew Albert 


(April 25, 2003) 

Seig Howdy 


not just mad Marxist-Lenninist scientists 

using the name in fear and loathing. 


Ordinary liberals and libertarians 

looking over their shoulders 

nervously describing secret courts and prisons 

torturous no Constitution terms of confinement. 


Of a punishing bullying government 

propaganda media thugs scandalizing 

even the mildest critics in Bush Town. 


Of fixed and future elections 

billion dollar brain washing extravaganzas 

once called political campaigns. 


The conquest of Iraq 

signals an ultra right-wing conquest of America. 

Powell shuffles or is purged. 

Along with all those gay gun control Dixie Chick pro-choice Republicans. 


Every one always knew it could happen here. 

Not by violence 

but by money and the manipulation of minds. 


Emperor George has one last task before he’s untouchable. 

Convince millions of Americans 

that the economy tanked in the toilet 

because liberals opposed giving billionaires 

everyone’s spare change. 


He sells that one 

and the goose step 

becomes compulsory morning exercise. 



(May 1, 1997) 

It Was 20 Years Ago – Today 

Marriage May Day May Day

20 years later and our merger outlasts the red holiday of utopian desire. 

We have our secret celebration, our own love 

a private nation of family sandwiches, a daughter, a cat, stuffed utopian animals, trips, questions, peaceful pleasures. 


Marriage May Day May Day 

So much has been lost. 

Man overboard. May Day May Day 


We found each other 20 years ago on a glistening afternoon 

a hillside of memories and unforgotten friends. 

Amidst chaos and cowardice, remembering, creating out of love and friendship 

a soulful union of hope. 



(May 1, 2003) 

May Pole 

Happy May Day Comrades 

It’s my wedding anniversary. 

I met Judy in 1968 on the Berkeley campus. 

It was Stop the Draft Week and she was new in town. 


We married on May 1, 1977. 

Our marriage outlasted our movement. 


Oh Comrades, 

If only our communal consciousness and idealistic wisdom 

had been as enduring as the love of a man and a woman. 

I thought I could count on you, Comrades 

but you got absorbed into the great American vacuum cleaner 

of lost memory. 


Judy makes it possible 

to hope that Dubya will walk naked and ashamed. 


If we could stick together bound by love, irony and kindness, 

then anything good must still be possible. 



(May 1, 2005) 

Yes You May Day 

May Day is Married Day 

‘cause Comrade Judy and I got married 28 years ago 

on this ancient red-letter day. 

She was eight months pregnant 

under a sun shining Woodstock wedding of tie-dye chuppa 

with friends and family cheering 

Bill Kunstler cracking jokes 

secret police skulking for underground Abbie 

by blocking roads and reading licenses. 


Loving lovers always be trumping lying liars 

that’s the story till now. 

Except last year was spent in chemotherapeutic hell 

accompanied by Dubya’s stealing a second term. 


A very bad year for good people. 


But roses are budding, the garden awakens, the struggle renews, 

the senior marrieds now ride off into western sunset 

for bright month of legendary beauty. 

Everybody must get renewed by love. 

(June 5, 2002) 

Jessica is 25

I was the first to see you 25 years ago, 

I told Judy moments after you began the journey 

“She has the eyes.” 

Penetrating power that looks at you and knows. 


On your 25th birthday 

those same eyes, undiminished and stronger 

still look intensely. 

Know that you are loved, cherished, respected beyond measure. 


A sweet warrior celebrates a new chapter. 

She is strong. She is ready. 


(December 4, 2002) 

Yippie Café *

Let me raise a cup to my fallen pals 

The empty chairs and tables 

At the Yippie Café 

To Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Phil Ochs and all the others. 


In dreams they come for me. 

And say they love me, miss me, want me. 

OK, someday I’ll be coming 

But not just yet. 


I’ve got a few more poems up my sleeve 

And a few more Bushies to burn. 


* “Stew wrote this poem on his 63rd birthday…. I put it on his memorial card.” — Judy.