Restoring Chain Reaction: A Time For Gratitude, Appreciation

Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014, 9:40:00 AM

Special To The Mirror

Santa Monica activist Jerry Rubin is a big supporter of Chain Reaction.
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Santa Monica activist Jerry Rubin is a big supporter of Chain Reaction.

By Jerry Rubin

Now that the iconic landmarked 'Chain Reaction' peace sculpture has

been saved and the City of Santa Monica has started a process of

restoration, I thought it might be interesting for people to know who

some of the good folks are who saved it.

The hard work that was done by so many dedicated people in the last

two years deserves mention and deep appreciation. Many worked tirelessly

to insure the late three-time Pulitzer Prize winning political

cartoonist Paul Conrad's 26-foot-tall public art mushroom cloud warning

monument will remain standing in the Civic Center.

Certainly there will be many names that should have been included and

I deeply apologize for any omissions. Everyone hopefully will

ultimately will be given the personal appreciation they deserve. There

are so many heroes and unsung heroes!

This "appreciation column" is simply my personal and public way of

saying "thank you." And, as a longtime peace and anti-nuclear activist

who was campaigning 25 years ago to help make sure the gifted sculpture

was accepted by the City, I'd like to begin this "gratitude list" going

way back to 1989.

First and foremost the deepest appreciation must go to Paul Conrad,

who inscribed at the base of his timely, creative and unique sculpture:

"This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph."

Deepest appreciation must also go to Joan Kroc, the late San Diego

philanthropist, nuclear abolition proponent and widow of McDonald's

founder Ray Kroc, who donated $250,000, anonymously at the time, for the

sculpture's construction.

Roger Genser, who was on the Santa Monica Arts Commission in 1989,

and is currently on the Landmarks Commission, deserves the utmost of

credit. He was working to insure the Arts Commission would give a

positive recommendation to the City Council, and they did numerous

times. Much appreciation to every member of that commission.

Much credit must also go to Paul Leaf, who chaired that 1989

commission, helped found the Art Commission, and is still working with

the Save Chain Reaction campaign to insure the public art sculpture's

timely restoration.

The four members of the City Council in 1990 who voted "yes" when the

sculpture was finally approved were Judy Abdo, David Finkel, Bill

Jennings and the late Ken Genser. They deserve our ongoing respect and

much appreciation.

The nine former Santa Monica Mayors who are supporting our recent

Save Chain Reaction efforts are a testament to how much support and

diversity the campaign had. They are Judy Abdo, Richard Bloom, Jim Conn,

Mike Feinstein, Ruth Goldway, Paul Rosenstein, Bobby Shriver, Nat

Trives and Denny Zane. I say "thank you" nine-fold to each and every


Appreciation must be given to other former and current elected

officials such as State Senator Ted Lieu, former State Senator Sheila

Kuehl, former L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, S.M. School Board

members Ben Allen and Oscar de la Torre, former S.M.School Board member

Barry Snell, SMC College Board members Nancy Greenstein, Andrew Walzer

and Rob Rader, and State Assembly Member Richard Bloom.

I still remember the special Arts Commission meeting back in

February, 2012 when we learned 'Chain Reaction' might be removed. Along

with me and my wife Marissa were two other longtime local peace

activists that attended and spoke out at that meeting held at the Santa

Monica Civic Auditorium's East Wing. My very deepest thanks to Cris

Gutierrez and Randy Ziglar for their ongoing support and help. We

started small but we grew!

We started the Save Chain Reaction campaign "officially" back on

March 4, 2012. We need to show gratitude to the former coffee shop cafe

'Flying Saucers Caffein and Art' and their owner Ryan MacLeod Morris for

graciously hosting, after the cafe's regular closing time, our very

first preliminary meeting.

Kit Dreyfuss was one of the activists at that meeting. She was the

wife of the late L.A. Times architecture critic John Dreyfuss, who also

loved Paul Conrad's sculpture. Kit has been involved on every level

since day one.

We held our first public event at Vidiots, right across the street

from 'Chain Reaction' on April 1, 2012. We screened the PBS Independent

Lens documentary "Paul Conrad: Drawing Fire" by supportive filmmakers

Barbara Multer-Wellin and Jeffrey Abelson, who personally attended the

screening. Vidiots and their owner Patty Cohen have been supporting our

community for many years, so our deep appreciation goes out to them on

many levels.

Very significant and most helpful and appreciated legal support came

when attorneys Ken Kutcher along with Chris Harding of the prestigious

Santa Monica law firm of Harding, Larmore, Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

offered to represent Paul Conrad's son Dave Conrad pro bono in his

efforts to help save 'Chain Reaction'.

A most positive action took place on July 9, 2012 when our Santa

Monica Landmarks Commission unanimously voted to declare 'Chain

Reaction' a City Landmark.

There were, in my opinion, some very positive and milestone turning

points in our campaign. The initial turning point was when Robert Berman

started holding the first of his many fundraising art auctions at his

gallery at Bergamot Station. His efforts and know how, along with his

dedicated staff member Sarah Mason helped immeasurably to save 'Chain


Another positive turning point was when Hannah Sloan and Elena

Christopoulos came aboard to set up our very professional website and Facebook page. We wouldn't have had the ability to get the 3,800 online

petition signatures without their help and social media skills. They

both were a profound asset on many levels.

As the "Chain Gang" team

ongoing support increased, so did our prospects of saving and restoring

'Chain Reaction'. Deep appreciation to Carol Wells, Brian English, Narda

Zacchino, Jennifer Gross, Jeff Charbonneau, Craig Krull, Dana Sorman,

Richard Brand, Brian Moss, Steve Cioffi, Jacqueline Jo, Lisa Richards, Marc Morgenstern, Judy Branfman, and Josh Needle.

Another milestone was when respected community activist and fundraiser Abby Arnold volunteered to help the campaign.

Still another turning point was when Russ Barnard, the owner of

Rusty's Surf Ranch on the Santa Monica Pier supportively offered his

venue for two successful Save Chain Reaction fundraising events. Deepest

gratitude to Russ and his kind assistant Cindy Pfeifer.

I believe yet another positive turning point was the nearly full page

supportive art review L.A. Times art critic Christopher Knight gave for

saving 'Chain Reaction'.

One more very important turning point was when our dedicated team

member Cindy Bendat conscientiously and successfully reached out to our

many supportive neighborhood organizations.

There were many other local and nationally recognized columnists and

bloggers that were instrumental in helping to save 'Chain Reaction',

such as Robert Scheer, the editor of Truthdig ; Peter Scheer and Bill

Boyarsky, also of Truthdig; Lisa Napoli of KCRW, political cartoonist

Mr. Fish; local blogger Frank Gruber; Mirror columnist Steve

Stajich and Daily Press columnists Jack Neworth and Charles Andrews.

I'll always remember, when I visited him, how Charles finished a

deadline-due 'Save Chain Reaction' column from his hospital bed just a

day after his very serious heart surgery operation at St Johns Hospital.

Now that deserves extra appreciation!

Gratitude to Veterans for Peace and its local co-founder Ed Ellis;

gratitude to the S.M. Chamber of Commerce and their president Laurel

Rosen and government affairs director Carl Hansen ; gratitude to the

S.M. Conservancy and its president Carol Lemlein.

Gratitude to some very creative and dedicated notable actors,

activists and musicians such as Norman Lear, Martin Sheen, Tim Robbins,

Ed Asner, Mike Farrell, Alexandra Paul, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Graham

Nash, Henry Rollins, Michelle Phillips, Haskell Wexler, Ed Ruscha, Judy

Baca, Tom Hayden, Ron Kovic, Daniel Ellsberg, Qorianka Kilcher, Max

Gail, Francis Fisher, Scott Caan, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Ross Altman and

Stephen Longfellow Fiske.

I must offer my very deep appreciation to the many SAMOHI students

who helped with our campaign and who spoke so eloquently to our City


Our dedicated religious leaders who were supporting us included

Monsignor LLoyd Torgerson, Reverend Janet McKeithen, Rabbi Neil

Comess-Daniels and Rabbi Leonard Beerman.

Many local architects supported us and need to be thanked, including

Ralph Mechur, Howard Laks, Gwynne Pugh, Robert Taylor, Dan Jansenson,

Mario Fonda- Bernardi, Richard Brand, Hank Koning and Michael Folonis.

We also deeply appreciate the ongoing support of art conservationist Steve Colton.

Also, much gratitude to Arleen Ferrara ,who designed a preliminary

creative design for a "peace garden" buffer around 'Chain Reaction'.

I must also mention the expert support we got from Edward Lollis, who

maintains the largest online website of peace monuments around the


Of course much gratitude must go to our dedicated City Manager Rod

Gould, Cultural Affairs City Staff leaders Karen Ginsberg and Jessica

Cusick, and City Engineer Ron Takiguchi, as well as our hard working

City Council. Their flexibility, commitment and responsible support are

most appreciated.

I must say that the utmost of appreciation, gratitude and respect

should go to the entire Conrad family, especially Paul Conrad's son Dave

Conrad and Paul Conrad's wife Kay Conrad, as well as his other children

Carol, Libby and James, and Dave's wife Angele for their dedication,

patience, commitment, hard work and positive energy throughout what was

obviously a frustrating and exhausting two years.

And, how could I not give the deepest appreciation and gratitude to

my loving wife Marissa? She was not only an integral member of the Save

Chain Reaction team but, as a longtime artist and art therapist, shared

much creative advice, wisdom and hard work throughout the many years of

our great City of Santa Monica getting, and now keeping, 'Chain


Thanks again. I'm sure a "Gratitude List Part 2" will be needed.

* Jerry Rubin is a longtime peace activist, Santa Monica resident and member of Save Chain Reaction.

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