Date Created: 09/13/2020
Last Updated: 09/14/2020

In loving memory of Paul Rudd
7/9/1974 - 4/28/2020

Location: New York City, New York

Visits: 207

This memorial was created in honor of Paul Robeson Rudd of New York City, New York. Paul was born on July 9, 1974 in Philadelphia and passed on April 28, 2020. Paul was loved by many and will be dearly missed by all friends and family.

 
 
 
 

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From: Judy Brown Monday, September 14, 2020
(Mark's tribute to Paul, June 21, 2020) HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! Today my family published our son Paul’s obituary in the NY Times and in the Albuquerque paper. He died at the end of April, but it took us almost two months to write the obituary. Writing by committee takes a lot longer because of the heightened bar for truth. What’s a fact? What’s opinion or ideology or just plain blindspots? I’m glad we did it that way, though, it seemed right to take our time. Maybe, also, we weren’t ready to go public. I’ll give you the first paragraph now and then post the whole thing at the end of this note. RUDD--Paul R. 45, Paul Robeson Rudd died unexpectedly in his home in New York City on April 28. He was born in Philadelphia on July 9, 1974, to Sue LeGrand and Mark Rudd, who named him in honor of the great Paul Robeson. A brilliant person, Paul was also modest, kind, generous, and extremely thoughtful about how to make the world more humane and just. He was admired and loved by his colleagues, friends, and family. I’ve been quiet about Paul’s death these two months. It’s because I’m inhabiting a planet very far away, somewhere with only scorched earth, where nobody needs to go. Then at the same time I’m back on this world, with all its joys and horrors. Toggling between the two is nothing but exhausting. Dealing with people, especially, tired me out. I could handle seeing in person maybe two people per week. I’ve stayed at home, going out maybe once a week to shop or on some errand. The garden has blossomed like never before because Marla and I have never stayed home for a whole spring to tend it Things finally lightened up a little this week. Last Tuesday, June 16, we passed the 49th day since Paul died. It takes 49 days for a person’s soul, according to the little Buddhism I know, to pass through an intermediate state between this life and where it will rest. My friend Alan Senauke, a buddhist priest, wrote me, “According to the teachings—which can contradict each other—Paul is moving on, either to the Pure Land or to another life. So he has further opportunities to benefit us all.” "Benefit us all?" Damn, he'd been benefiting us all his whole life. That's when the need for this piece became clear. Up until that moment, yesterday, I’d been dreading Father’s Day, “Happy Father’s Day!!!” would only prompt my sad “Bah Humbug!” My birthday passed on June 2 and I ran away to the mountains to hide just to avoid hearing Happy Birthday. But, here it is, the obits have spilled the beans and I’m wanting to tell people about my son. I’ve been thinking about him a lot. Paul had always been modest, not broadcasting his accomplishments. He was his own person. More than anyone I’ve ever known, he had a knack for scoping out a situation or a problem and picking a solid position from which to approach. I learned early in his life that his judgements were rarely the same as mine; they were better. No crazed enthusiasms, wishful thinking, ideology, romanticism. It was 1980, Paul was six, and Sue, Paul’s mom, and I were loading our station wagon with people and camping gear and signs to take down to southeast New Mexico to demonstrate against the then-proposed WIPP nuclear waste dump in Carlsbad, N.M. Having spent the previous two years going back and forth to encampments, demonstrations, hearings, etc., this was one more schlep. Paul said to me as he helped us load, “We’re not gonna win this.” My heart sank because I knew he was right, we weren’t actually building a movement with the power that we needed, and he could see it. (Years later, WIPP got built, with all the problems we predicted). By the age of eleven, Paul had attended way more than his share of meetings, demonstrations, sit-ins, conferences. In the mid-Eighties I helped organize the New Mexico Construction Brigade to Nicaragua in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua and the Sandinista Revolution. Paul and I were talking about what it would take to win and I mentioned that we have a chance to build a mass movement to change the government's policy. He said, “What’s a mass movement?” and it stopped me cold. I realized that he had never experienced a mass movement, as I had, growing up during the Civil Rights movement and participating in the Vietnam anti-war movement. So how would he know what such a thing was, how it looked and what it felt like? Or even that they exist? He knew history, but he couldn’t possibly internalize my experience. He knew the facts in front of his eyes, not my idealistic hopes. The last demonstration that Paul and I ever attended together was that same year, 1985. We were protesting U.S. aid to the Contra, the counter-revolutionary army in Nicaragua. A well-meaning comrade of mine, unfortunately also a bozo, had stuck a “STOP CONTRA AID!” sign in Paul’s hands, a photographer for the Albuquerque Journal came along and snapped a shot, and the next morning a mortified Paul saw his picture in the paper. Never again did that happen. I could go on and on with stories of Paul going his own way. In high school he ran the school mainframe computer; was mentored in fractals by a UNM math professor who recognized his genius; disappeared to Costa Rica his entire last semester; and still graduated at the top of his class (Salutatorian, I think). A National Merit Scholar, he went to Brown University and became a neuroscience major. “I want to understand the nature of consciousness,” he explained to me, “so what’s the best way to do that? Let’s say you want to know how a clock works. Do you watch people watching clocks? That would be other approaches, psychology, linguistics, literature. No, you take it apart. That’s neuroscience.” Here’s a strange thing that happened: Paul graduated with a B.A. in neuroscience in 1996. He and his friends had read Michael Lewis’ first book, “Liar’s Poker,” which is a memoir of the author’s time as a mortgage broker on Wall St. during the 1980’s. It was Lewis’ goodbye to that corrupt world, and the start of his new writing career. He had intended the story as a cautionary tale, but thousands of other kids, mostly boys like Paul, took it as a handbook. So when the hot day traders of Wall St., mostly working class guys from Brooklyn and Queens, came looking for Ivy League science graduates to gussy up their marginally legal and slightly disreputable operations, Paul answered the call. I guess he was a lot like me at that age, wanting to be where the action was. Day trading involves playing very tiny differences in prices, by buying a stock, holding it for ten seconds or so, and then selling it. Do that a thousand times a day and the money can add up. Most people lost their shirts at the game, but Paul, using his math abilities, won from the start. Shortly he was trading for himself, paying his old bosses, some of whom were by now imprisoned, for the use of their infrastructure. He next realized that if he could translate into code the intuitive algorithms he was using to make his decisions, he could automate the whole process and follow an entire market rather than just four or five stocks at a time. That effort took several years, the additional help of a partner, his high school buddy, and even hiring the Brown professor who taught him neural networking as a consultant. Paul was conducting an experiment in artificial intelligence, the markers of which happened to be money. (When people would ask me what Paul does I’d reply, “He fell in with a bad crowd at Brown and wound up on Wall St.”). I’d ask him, “Where does all this money come from?” And he’d mumble something like, “there’s a river of money and I’m just dipping my paw in.” I’d reply, “Haven’t you ever heard of Marx’s Labor Theory of Value? All wealth is derived from human labor, ultimately.” He’d think about it a second and then say, “That’s ridiculous. Corporations make money by firing workers; the fewer you have the more you make.” Clearly I lost that argument. But I was secretly delighted because I knew Paul didn’t care much about money. Also, I could use some of his for my own expenses and purposes. In our family, there’s always been an ethos that if anyone has money, everyone has enough. Best of all, Paul's artificial intelligence experiment was one of the few not funded by the military or intelligence community. My wife, Marla, because of her background in the nonprofit world, was able to hook Paul up with the Democracy Alliance, a group of left-liberal millionaires and organizations, such as labor unions, who banded together, not quite 20 years ago, to create a progressive infrastructure for the Democratic Party--think tanks, communications outlets, lobbying entities, membership groups. They were countering the conservative infrastructure that has been built over decades for the Republican Party with such success, the Heritage Foundations and the Federalist Societies. Eventually Paul’s sense of practicality brought him to serve on the board of the Center on Budget and Priorities, which seeks to evaluate state and federal spending and taxation legislation for its effect on the poor; and also on the board of the Roosevelt Institute, which seeks to keep alive the principles of the New Deal--economic justice and humane government. (Joseph Steglitz is the lead economist for the Institute and has been producing numerous plans and ideas for recovery for the left wing of the Democratic Party). At the online Zoom memorial that friends from Albuquerque organized five days after Paul died, Anne Roosevelt, granddaughter and chair of the board of the Roosevelt Institute, spoke movingly on how she relied on Paul’s judgement, he by the time of his death serving as vice-chair of the board. The director of the Institute, Felicia Wong, talked about Paul’s clear-headed contributions in getting the Institute’s financial house in order. Later, she told me that Paul attended an average of 30 meetings per year for the Institute. That took commitment. All of us in Paul’s immediate family heard at that memorial Paul’s friends and work associates talk about how much they had admired and relied on him, and how important he was to them. We were stunned by how much we were learning about Paul. I had known that he was on those boards, and on a third, Brave New Films, but did not know exactly what he was working on. His modesty just would not allow him to blow his own horn. In his own way, Paul was trying to lay the groundwork for a future progressive movement in this country that would eventually be able to gain power and remake government for the benefit of the people and the planet. His model was something like social democracy (The New Deal), a compromise between capitalism and public control. Share the wealth. It’s the same place I’ve wound up, though it took me much longer to get there. Paul was too busy and tired during the lockdown, before he died, to have the extra energy to study the pandemic and the economic collapse, as he might have otherwise. But I’m positive he would have instantly grasped that global capitalism is in serious crisis because of the inequalities built into all the systems--economic, education, medical, justice, ecological--and that the possibilities for revolutionary change have now suddenly appeared. He would have seen the rise of a mass movement for racial justice, against white supremacy, the first movement on that scale of his life. Paul leaves behind his partner of twenty-five years, Denise Desjardins, and their five-year-old daughter, Violet, our granddaughter. Also his sister, Elena, and her family, including our almost nine-year-old granddaughter, Corra, and our eleven-year-old grandson, Owen. Paul was rock solid in his love for Denise and Violet, and for our family. That’s another way in which he taught us. Of course I’ll miss Paul, but he left home long ago, to start his own life and family. That’s fine, just as it should be. As did Elena, who is an elementary school teacher, toiling at the family business. I could not be much prouder to celebrate Father’s Day today.

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