In 1957 there was a catchy rock ‘n’ roll song, “Rockin’ Robin,” by Bobby Day that swept the nation’s AM airwaves. Admittedly not terribly profound, it was about a bird that “bopped in the treetops all day long.”
Activist Jerry Rubin, aka “Rockin’ Rubin,” bops all day long at the Third Street Promenade, relentlessly promoting world peace.
In fact, in the past 35 years, Jerry has organized 200 peace, environmental, and other progressive events. In 1991, along with his wife Marissa, he hand delivered a 1 mile-long “Teach Love, Not War” peace scroll to the United Nations.
In 2003, in Santa Monica Superior Court, Jerry legally added “Peace Activist” as his middle name. Lastly, while he’s run for City Council six times, he predicts, “Lucky seven may be the charm.”
In addition to being one of the founders of Treesavers, who tried to rescue ficus trees in Downtown Santa Monica, Jerry’s also the co-founder of Save Chain Reaction, the landmark sculpture of an atomic blast, created by the late L.A. Times political cartoonist Paul Conrad.
Located in the Civic Center, “Chain Reaction” has stood for the past 22 years as a powerful monument for nuclear disarmament and world peace. But it needs repairs estimated to cost as much as $400,000. (Seem high?) It faces removal if the $400K from the public is not raised by Feb. 1, 2014. But more on this later.
Over the decades, Jerry has received numerous activist awards, including ones from the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Los Angeles County, the L.A. Weekly and Santa Monica Conservancy.
In my opinion, he should also get the “Defying Convention” award. In 20 years, I’ve never seen him in a suit and tie or even in a pair of long pants.
At all the candidate debates and all the times he’s spoken before the City Council (some speculate he’s attended more meetings than actual council members) Jerry’s always wearing his “uniform:” sturdy walking shoes, walking shorts and a T-shirt, often featuring the peace symbol.
I wrote about Jerry last year in “The Tale of Two Rubins.” I traced Jerry’s intertwining relationship with the famous anti-Vietnam War activist, Jerry Rubin, who, at the 1968 Democratic convention, was beaten by Chicago police, arrested and prosecuted in a highly publicized trial known as “The Chicago 7.” (As was Tom Hayden, our former assemblyman and state senator with whom the bombastic Rubin often clashed.)
But years later “Chicago 7” Jerry became a millionaire multi-level marketer while Santa Monica Jerry was even more involved in controversial protests. In fact, Jerry’s antics provoked businessman Jerry, on a live KABC radio broadcast, to offer $10,000 to change his name. (To … Tom Hayden!)
About to turn 70, Jerry’s philosophical, “It happens to everybody if you live long enough.” In true activist style, Jerry’s celebrating his birthday with a celebrity-packed “Chain Reaction” fundraiser on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at Rusty’s Surf Ranch on the Santa Monica Pier from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
“Chain Reaction” sculptor, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Conrad, was fearless in his politics and brilliantly biting in his cartooning. At the conservative L. A. Times, in a career lasting five decades, Conrad boldly addressed poverty, civil rights, the Vietnam War and corporate and political corruption. Criticism of President Richard Nixon landed Conrad on Nixon’s “Enemies List,” which he regarded as a badge of honor.
Conrad’s son, Dave, will be attending the fundraiser. He strongly believes that “Chain Reaction” is, “An irreplaceable work of public art, and a Santa Monica landmark second only to our beloved pier.”
Also appearing at Jerry’s birthday bash is a star-studded list of activists. It includes Michelle Phillips, former singer with the legendary Mamas and Papas; actress Alexandra Paul, former star of “Baywatch” and current host of “Earth Talk Today”; Q’orianka Kilcher, who, at 10, was a street singer on the Third Street Promenade (where she first met Jerry) and at 14 starred as Pocahontas in the movie “The New World.”
Brilliant comedian Rick Overton will supply the humor for the evening while pop balladeer from Pakistan, Tee-M, will share his unique song styling. Chris Carter, popular radio host of “Breakfast with the Beatles,” will M.C. the festivities.
In 1991, the City Council accepted the donation of “Chain Reaction,” but now insists the public pay for its maintenance. I don’t get it. It’s as if, when the Statue of Liberty needed repairs, we ordered the French to come fix it or we’d dump it into the ocean.
As for the big birthday bash at Rusty’s, it’s too bad the late Bobby Day (1930-1990) can’t be there to sing, “Go Rockin’ Rubin ‘cuz we’re really gonna rock tonight. Tweet, tweedle-lee-dee!” To which I add, “Happy Birthday Day, Jerry!”
For more party info go to savechainreaction.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (310) 399-1000. Q’orianka’s amazing singing is at www.facebook.com/jerry.rubin.98 and the “Original Rockin’ Robin” is at YouTube. The not that amazing Jack is at email@example.com.