ALLEN RUFF — readin' ritin' & Ricotta

Allen Ruff

Writing about his hometown of New Haven, Conn, novelist Allen Ruff
invites the reader into a world that existed
beyond the confines of Yale's protective ivy enclosures.

His new book, Save Me, Julie Kogon, features a charming,
yet bittersweet view into that scene, a glimpse
at the underbelly of a Jewish urban scene that has all but disappeared.


Exchange of views
Draped in an American flag, Ryan Holz, a senior majoring in history and political science, advocates for support of American troops in Iraq as he debates with Allen Ruff, a Madison resident and peace activist, during an anti-war protest held at Library Mall on March 27.

[April 8, 2003]

New American Dream Interview

ALLEN RUFF, 59, lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

He works at Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative.

"Originally from New Haven, Connecticut, I came to Madison for a ten day visit ... 35 years ago. I'm a historian, and writer, a social and political activist, just out with my first novel, /Save Me, Julie Kogon/."

Allen also hosts two radio programs on Madison's WORT, 89.9fm: "Third World View" & "A Public Affair"

Third World View:

The oldest news show at WORT, Third World View covers issues relating to the “Third World” (very broadly-defined) from a critical, anti-imperialist perspective. Third World View newscasts include a half-hour round-up of the week’s international news, followed by a 20-30 minute feature, often a speech or in-depth interview. Third World View airs every Sunday 5-6pm.

More about Allen Ruff:


The New American Dream Trivia Question:

To win something be the seventeenth socialist in Sheboygan to correctly answer the following.

Allen Ruff would rather be ....

a. Back in New Haven, researching his tell-all Skull & Bones blockbuster

b. Dane County Farmers Market King For A Day

c. Eating some cheese, drinking some Door County wine, catching some rays, on the fifty-yard line at Lambeau

d. Lead old guy for The Gomers

e. Shouting "Well, Whada Ya Know?" to the adoring masses

f. A Grumpy Old Man, in Minnesota

Actual Answer:

g. Opposing imperialism and talking about the need, indeed the necessity of socialism


NAD: Allen, hello, thank you for taking the time for this.

I'm just wondering out loud if a kid growing up in Madison might come to think every city in the world has twenty-four-hour-a-day home mulch delivery service.

Why did you stay, in Madison?

The sense of community (back when) and an ambiance of left political culture (still relatively vibrant but nothing what it was) that I found here.

The great teachers here, especially the late great Harvey Goldberg in the UW history department, attracted me initially.

Then life took its course; what I now refer to on occasion as the "Shit Happens School of History".

(We know, of course, that it never "just happens". Ah, yes, the question of human agency and choices.)

Plus I be came "involved" — relationships and politics and political relationships.

NAD: What's so great about Madison, in your opinion?

Compared to the rest of this country?

It's still relatively a livable city (if you have the wherewithall) with a progressive (though jaded) past, a great history, lots of good folks and viable community-based activism and institutions.

While not a large city, it still draws from a more global and cosmopolitan culture, so it isn't as provincial or isolated as one might expect.

NAD: How is your book doing?

The book has done remarkably well, if not in gigantic sales (I'll never be on "Oprah"), then through the wide and diverse readership that has comented quite favorably to it.

NAD: What's it about?

I sometimes describe it as a highly fictionalized recounting of my father's funeral; that is, a funeral rites-of-passage novel about the passing of an "ol' man" and, — through flashbacks, dreams, and retellings — the stories of those who showed up for the funeral and why they bothered to come.

NAD: Why did you decide to write it?

I had to.

NAD: Do you have another one in the hopper?

Yes, at least as it swirls and takes form in my cranium.

NAD: Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?

I don't ask this to make fun. I ask because I really seek the answers.

Are UFOs real?

Did we land on the moon in 1968?

Did Bush knock down the towers?

Was Paul Wellstone's death an accident?

The Oklahoma City bombing? Wasn't that just another U.S. government terrorist exercise?
Or not.

Waco. We burned kids, right? You can see flames shooting out of the tanks.
Or not.

Is Bigfoot real?

Is there a God?


NAD: How is the bookstore doing?

Do people in Madison read? More than ... others?

Small independent bookstore are "under the gun,", beseiged by the increasing concentration of the book market and publishing world.

The "big box" chains like Borders and B&N, and the proliferation of online sales by the likes of Amazon, etc., with their privileged position and volume sales capacity to offer discounts.

Madison is a highly literate town. So they say.

The proliferation of cell phone virtual culture, etc. and the fact that whole generations are coming up with an ever diminishing number of "book people" suggests an approaching era akin to that of Fahrenheit 451 where books will no longer exist.

Far in the future, I hope.

NAD: Do you think American culture — as shown by lack of reading perhaps — is on the downswing, or perhaps just evolving?

The narrowing of vision, knowledge; the homogenization of culture and the increasing control of the media into fewer and fewer hands does not bode well for an authentically democratic society.

Now, does it?

NAD: Do you have hope in Obama?


Why not?

Not very much.

He's now the President, constrained and confined by the structures and institutions around him.

Besides, he's not about to break with the long-held bipartisan consensus regarding the US role and "mission" in the world.

He certainly did not show any signs of any paradigmatic shift, during his inaugural speech or in his campaign speeches and positions, away from an American "exceptionalism" which has wreaked havoc across the planet.

NAD: Does your favorite coffee cup have words on it? What are they?


NAD: What did you absolutely have to get done by noon today? Today?

Nothing. Besides, its way past noon.

NAD: How about by Christmas 2009?

What's Xmas?



THE New American Dream Feature Interviews

If you search the archives below, you will find, in a sort of order [last to first], interviews with:

Len Osanic, Black Op Radio

Levi Asher,
a writer and literary critic in New York City

Geov Parrish,
Seattle journalist, activist

Bill Polonsky,
Yukon 9/11 Truth

Daphne Webb,
Denver writer, activist, green wedding planner

Michael Boldin,
a populist blooms in L.A.

Greg Mitchell,
editor of Editor & Publisher magazine

Will Braun,
editor of Geez Magazine,

Ben Heine,
political artist in Belgium

Matt Sullivan,
editor of The Rock Creek Free Press

Sam Smith,
editor of The Progressive Review

Jarek Kupsc,
9/11 Truth filmmaker, "The Reflecting Pool"

Bill O'Driscoll,
arts editor, Pittsburgh City Paper

Gerry McCarthy,
editor of The Social Edge

Jim Cullen,
editor of The Progressive Populist magazine

old-school blogger from Tulsa

Lee Rayburn,
radio show host from Madison, Wisconsin

Aimee England,
bookseller in Michigan

Al Markowitz,
poet for the working woman & man

Timbre Wolf,
a Tulsa peace minstrel goes to Hawaii

Steven Stothard,
a radical grows in Indiana

Dale Clark, an artist in the desert

Jacqui Devenuau, Green Party organizer in Maine

Don Harkins, co-editor of The Idaho Observer

Stewart Bradley, independent film producer

Rick Smith, Cleveland area radio host

William P. Meyers, independent book publisher, political activist

Ian Woods, Canadian publisher, 9/11 Truth activist

Richard D. Brinkman, Edmonton, Canada 9/11 Truth

Lynn Berg, New York City actor

Alejandro Rojas, of MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network

Brian Kasoro, publisher of The Liberator magazine

Brother Raymond, walked from Denver to D.C., for truth

Korey Rowe, one of the producers of Loose Change

Dave Zweifel, editor of The Madison Capital Times

Cathleen Howard, expatriate, from Tucson to Mexico, to pursue her dreams

Sander Hicks, Brooklyn radical entrepreneur, writer, publisher

Joe Bageant, America's blue-collar author

Frida Berrigan, a lifetime of faith, hope and love

Denise Diaz, brewing up a revolution, at The Ritual Cafe in Des Moines

Deanna Taylor, Green Party activist, teacher, in Salt Lake City

Rossie Indira-Vltchek, writer, filmmaker in Jarkarta, Indonesia

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Pacifica reporter in Gaza

Delaney Bruce, Friends of Peltier

Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs

Michael Sprong, South Dakota Catholic Worker

Brian Terrell, Des Moines Catholic Worker

Bob Graf
, One of the Milwaukee 14

Loren Coleman, Bigfoot researcher

Monty Borror, Sci-Fi artist from Virginia

David Ray, Great American Poet

Jack Blood, radio show host, in Austin, Texas

Danny Schechter, A Real Reporter

Bob Kincaid, host, Head-On Radio Show

Tony Packes, Animal Farm Radio Host, Keeping An Eye on Big Brother

Richard Flamer, Working With the Poor in Chiapas

David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Truth activist author

Barry Crimmins, U.S. comedian, author, social activist

Bret Hayworth, political reporter for the Sioux City [IA] Journal

Lisa Casey, publisher of website All Hat No Cattle

Joe & Elaine Mayer, activist couple in Rochester, Minnesota

Fr. Darrell Rupiper, U.S. priest revolutionary

Whitney Trettien, MIT student, Green Party activist

Meria Heller, radio show host

Phil Hey, professor, poet

John Crawford, book publisher

Steve Moon, Iowa Bigfoot researcher

Carol Brouillet, California social activist, 9/11 Truth

Russell Brutsche, Santa Cruz artist

Kevin Barrett, professor, radio show host, 9/11 Truth activist

A'Jamal Rashad Byndon, social activist in Omaha

Chris Rooney, Vancouver, Canada Catholic Worker, website publisher

Marc Estrin, political novelist, from the left

Peter Dale Scott, poet, professor, author, activist

Anthony Rayson, anarchist zine publisher, works with prisoners

Alice Cherbonnier, editor of The Baltimore Chronicle, an independent newspaper

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