Echoes of a Guerrilla Humorist

Satire is a lesson, parody is a game. – Vladimir Nabokov

When I attended the University of Arizona in the early 1980’s, I had served but three years in the Navy.  Through a roommate,  I was introduced to a group of student veterans whom I still can recall clearly though most I haven’t seen again in 30 years. Their members included Viet Nam veterans from Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Reservists; one Army and one Marine ROTC student.  Some others were girlfriends, and one, a quasi-Jewish. Kabbalah practitioner.  As a physically challenged student, a  very militant American with Disabilities Act activist,  she was nevertheless made part of the group.

One of my roommate’s longtime friends was a six-five, lanky, long-haired guy, whose improbable name, Jackson Terlaine Schwartz, conjured up a Jewish black man when I first heard it.  Hardly.  Jackson was a blonde hair, pale-complexioned ( hard to understand in the desert sun of Arizona)  creative writer.  He was fond of “double-zero” football-style jerseys, bell-bottoms and flip-flops.  And cannabis.  His occupation was nominally a student, but he would introduce himself as a ‘Guerrilla Humorist”.   To our amusement,  he would publish editions of a “Wall Street Urinal” parodying campus politics, Greek intrigue and newsworthy bits of Reagan Administration policies on the military and veterans.  All of which he distributed on “Nixon For President” photocopied letterhead. He had obtained a sheet of the actual letterhead sometime in the early 1970s.   Another time, he parodied well-heeled students who had the first “cellular” phones; his was a paint-splattered rotary-dial phone strapped to his belt.   But the most creative endeavor he produced – and which garnered him an article in the local Tucson newspaper, was his watercolor application submitted while the University was interviewing for Campus President.

Then one summer, he decided to move to Denver, Colorado. Our past president, a charismatic but rarely sober Army vet transferred to Minnesota.  One who was always promoting his superior skills as a medic quit when he failed to get into medical school.  Other stalwarts graduated, got full-time jobs, and the university ended our use of a campus meeting room.  Another member, a submarine sailor, became obsessed with intrigues, veterans with PTSD, girlfriend issues and never graduated.   That same year I cut ties with the Veterans’ Association, though I had been its President. I had joined the local Navy Reserve unit at the persistent urging of that particular sub sailor.  However he quit the Reserve shortly thereafter!

And I graduated but in Tucson it was a difficult time to find employment with a liberal arts degree.  I  re-enlisted in the Active Navy a few months later.

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