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Books Susan Stern: With The Weathermen Doubleday, 1975

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I remember meeting Susie Stern, as she was known in Movement circles, the day she was released from Cook County jail for her activities during the Weather Days of Rage in 1969. She seemed likeable - gregarious, extremely talkative, petite and, to use a term which one used before to use it was to label one a sexist dog, "cute."

From reading her autobiographical masterwork, Susie thought of herself in much the same terms, and was regarded as such by the myriads of Weatherdudes, junkies, speedfreaks, bikers and Trotskyites whom she fucked. Fucking, in fact, along with the ingestion of every imaginable drug taken in combination with every other imaginable drug, is the major ingredient of her self-described odyssey. Nothing was too degrading, apparently, for her tastes, and I'm sure that the John Birch Society will have a field day reciting verbatim passages from her sterling memoirs.

As for politics - well, politics seems to be a function of those activities. By her admission, she seldom had any idea of what anything meant j- she looked around her and saw suffering and to overcome that suffering, she became a streetfighter. A streetfighter, mind you, who always wore the sexiest garb. During "theoretical discussions" of tactics and ideology, she was usually too strung out on some drug to comprehend anything, and besides, it was all so boring. She yearned for action, man, and fuck it if there was no meaning to life. 

Indeed, her book captures in its essence the mindstate of many of her ilk during the heady days of 1968-1970. It always seemed to me back then that general mindlessness was a primary characteristic of many Movementoids who were the first to go squealing at the top of their lungs into a phalanx of policemen and, upon being busted, were the most vocal in decrying the "fascism" of society as they gleefully demanded bail from their parents or any "guilty liberals" who could be masochistically coerced into putting up the bail for these "revolutionaries."


Now, lest we be accused of historical opportunism, I should admit that back in those days, the fervid pace of events and the rhetoric of the times caught up many people, myself included, as well as those with whom I was associated politically. The essential difference between our attitude, however, and the attitude that Susie  presents in her hallowed pages is that, at the risk of seeming naive, I and most of my associates actually believed in the ideology we were promulgating, and tried our best to be consistent with its dicta. Susie, however, presents herself as wise in the ways of revolution, and as such was a total cynic about such matters, separating such things as sex and dope from her revolutionary pursuits - indeed, she presents them as a refuge, a relief if you will, from the tedium of political struggle.

Ah, yes, with such nostalgia does Susie recount her exploits in the counterculture. those five-day "criticism sessions" where all the alienated white college students discussed the dialectics of armed struggle, the smashing of monogamy, and the general counterrevolutionary nature of anybody who had the temerity to question their rubrics of revolution. Everybody knew then that the Apocalypse was to occur within six months, and that before It arrived, there was a whole lot of Smashing of the State to do. The prevailing sentiment was that the future held but three possibilities:  death, life in jail, or, most romantically - the Underground. 

Who among us revolutionary luminaries then could have perceived that there was yet another option open to us:  autobiographies. Telling all the terrified parents all the sordid details; that their wildest imaginings were in fact true. From reading between the lines, however, I detect that Susie has left out some important details, which she is no doubt saving  for Susie, Part Two. For instance, the picture section shows her lovingly nuzzling with her cocker spaniel, and I'm sure we can look forward to the sequel describing the heretofore untold joys of pansexuality - I mean, cocker spaniels are the neglected vanguard, man.  For that matter, we can all await breathlessly the titillating revelations of Patty Hearst once she negotiates her freedom by snitching on her "comrades" and tells us, after being jilted by "fascist insects,", the joys of making love to a cobra.