YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Al Martinez

His fast is aimed at war toys, though he is also opposed to poverty, nuclear plants and actors who become president. : Captain Peace Returns

February 04, 1988|Al Martinez

You remember Jerry Rubin.

He's the smiling, easy-going ascetic who, when trouble threatens, dons his hair shirt and his clip-on mike and becomes the war-hating, cool-talkin' Captain Peace.

He zaps with beams of love and media glow anyone who advocates violence in any form, either public or private, and is not opposed to going after a guy for kicking his dog.

He is in some ways like the television cartoon character Captain Power, who is always doing in the evil Lord Dread, though Rubin is as opposed to cartoon violence as he is to real violence, which is why Captain Peace fires love talk and not death rays.

Rubin, in fact, is on his fifth anti-violence fast in as many years, but do not think that his amazing energy is in any way diminished.

Au contraire.

I met with him last week in a Venice restaurant called the Rose Cafe, where a lot of peace-loving people gather, and discovered that he is as effective as ever, despite his 33rd day of doing without solid food.

I foolishly asked why he wasn't protesting real guns instead of toy guns and Rubin instantly stopped smiling, transformed himself into Captain Peace and leaned over his herbal tea.

"War toys," he said solemnly, hitting me with a love beam, "desensitize children to the real horror of violence and war. In play is where it all begins!"

I could have argued that I played cowboys and Indians as a kid but have grown to adulthood without any residual desire to shoot Iron Eyes Cody, but it was too late.

By the time Rubin was done giving me wave after wave of sweet nonviolence, I was marching around the restaurant singing peace songs. He's good at it, all right.

Rubin has been at this sort of thing for 10 years and is to the peace movement what Gloria Allred is to the feminist movement, tootling the media to follow along like a piper gathering rats.

In the past couple of years, he has been interviewed at least 50 times by electronic and print journalists, often accompanied by an attractive actress who, Rubin admits, enhances the likelihood of getting on television.

This year's fast, like last year's fast, is aimed at war toys, though he is similarly opposed to smog, poverty, nuclear plants and actors who become president.

Also, he is becoming wary of red meat, which must give the beef industry cause for concern. When he finishes fasting, Captain Peace is going to think about becoming Captain Fish too.

That might be risky in itself, however, unless he developes a taste for fish laced with chemicals and sewage, which are the prime ingredients of Santa Monica Bay. An activist who glows in the dark, while compelling, might not be healthy.

Rubin directs the L.A. Alliance for Survival. He is not to be confused, by the way, with the person of the same name who was part of the Yippie movement in the '60s.

That Rubin gave up on peace when its popularity ebbed. This Rubin is still at it.

He is so dedicated to what he does that when he fasts, he demands that any broth he is about to ingest be strained, so that no solid food slips by. That began early in the fast when he spotted a noodle floating around in some chicken broth.

"What did you do?" I asked.

He raised his arm to illustrate his reaction to the incident and proclaimed, in remembered outrage, "No noodles! Strain the broth!"

That is one small measure of Rubin's commitment. He has picketed for peace, marched for peace, danced for peace and even gone to jail for peace.

He also went to jail, you might recall, for smooshing a banana cream pie in the face of physicist Edward Teller, who is known as the "Father of the Hydrogen Bomb."

That occurred in Rubin's pre-Captain Peace days and was about as close as he has ever come to an act of violence.

He even made something out of that, however, suggesting that banana cream pies and not nuclear missiles be fired in the event of war.

Speaking of pies, Rubin decided that since he was saving money by fasting, he ought to share his savings with the poor people. So he bought $100 worth of cheese pizza last week and gave it to the homeless on Venice Beach.

This might grow someday into a Pizza for Peace movement that would combine fasting with feeding for the benefit of everyone.

I asked Captain Peace if he thought fasting really did any good. He said it gets a lot of media interest, which helps focus public attention on whatever evil the fasting is intended to protest.

Last year, for instance, the cities of Los Angeles, Burbank and Santa Monica outlawed the sale of replica toy guns, which are the ones that look like the real thing.

Rubin's campaigns, I'm sure, played a big part in the decision, and I guess I'm glad that he's going after toys of violence.

I do not, as I said, host any residual desire to shoot Indians, but every once in awhile I do get an almost overpowering urge to gun down a cowboy or two.

I'm sure if I do, Captain Peace will be after me, blazing away with love.

Los Angeles Times Articles