From the Vault – Axelrod takes a stance on nudity

If you heard someone say that Hyde Park has been swept up in a “wave of immodesty that is rolling across the nation,” would you listen? What if that person were one of the most famous Democratic strategists of our time?

David Axelrod devoted one of his columns for the Hyde Park Herald series, “Politicking,” to the phenomenon of streaking. Axelrod, who graduated from the U. of C. in the class of 1976, wrote the column during his time at the Herald as an undergraduate. The column itself has become something of a recurring joke in the Herald newsroom, and was reprinted in the paper March 18, 2009. Despite the immature giggles the story’s lede inspires (it’s written in narrative form), one can see from the column how David made it as far as he did in public affairs. The piece is remarkably well written, arguing that engagement in frivolous acts of unconsidered rebellion lets down the heritage of a student body that ought to be leading a charge for reform.

“You can almost feel the racists, war profiteers and corrupt politicians breathing easier,” Axelrod writes. “You can almost hear them say ‘thank God they’re getting naked now instead of bothering me.’”

For the Herald, Axelrod is one of a few claims to fame. On my first day of work in the office, one of the staff writers showed me Rolodex cards with David Axelrod and State Senator Barack Obama’s contact information, saved from the good old days. Fresh from the U. of C.’s orientation, I wondered whether I could follow their footsteps out of Hyde Park. I’m not so sure now — I couldn’t possibly make streaking that interesting.

For the full column by Axelrod, published March 20, 1974, visit this link.