Font Size

Get a copy of this limited edition of THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED ROCHDALE COLLEGE by Reg Hartt with cover art by Chester Brown, one of Canada’s foremost artists with a donation of $100.00. Send donation to Please supply your mailing address.

Like the belief of the terminally ill in medicine the belief of the legitimately frightened in the educational process is a comforting lie.”—David Mamet, TRUE AND FALSE.

When ROCHDALE COLLEGE opened its doors in Toronto in 1968 there were no teachers. Each Rochdalian was called to be their own teacher.

Few Rochdalians accepted that idea. I am one of those few.

One night at Rochdale College in Toronto I was screening was Billy Wilder’s A FOREIGN AFFAIR in what had been the North Cafeteria on the second floor of Rochdale College when, suddenly, Rochdale was raided by the police.

My audience rose to look out the windows to see what was happening.

At that moment the illegal nightclub in which Marlene Dietrich was singing in the film was raided. A voice boomed out from the movie soundtrack, “THIS IS A RAID!”

This caused my audience to panic. I said, “SIT DOWN.”

Someone said, “What gives you the authority to speak to us?”

I replied, “There are cops running through the halls out there with drawn guns. They are terrified by what they have heard and read about this place in the media. Go out there and you risk getting killed.”

Then, idiot that I am, I walked out onto the second floor lobby where a police officer, seeing me, dropped to one knee aiming his pistol at the space between my eyes.

It is said that at the moment of death our life flashes before our eyes.

THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED ROCHDALE COLLEGE details my life up to that moment.

To be truthful in that moment my life did not flash before my eyes.

Instead I looked at the police officer, accepted his fear and said, “I have a room filled with people who came here to see a movie. Please let me know when it is safe for me to allow them to leave.”

The police officer stood up, holstered his gun and thanked me.

Then I went back, asked the audience to sit until it was safe for them to leave. I started the movie.

THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED ROCHDALE COLLEGE begins with a raid on Rochdale. As I face death my life flashes before my eyes. From there the story travels back in time to my youth in New Brunswick, to Ottawa where I saw the ghost of a man who had died the day before at a meeting of The Bartonian Metaphysical Society (  ) which resulted in my being invited to study Extra Sensory Perception (I saw auras, had out of body experiences, the works), to Hollywood, California where I lived in a bordello while meditating daily at the grave of silent film star, Douglas Fairbanks until a chance encounter with two Los Angeles police officers led me back to Toronto and Rochdale College.

There are not many who got fan letters from Jane Jacobs. I am one of those few.

WARNING: THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED ROCHDALE COLLEGE is about everything Rochdale was about which is drugs, rock and roll and sex. Clearly it is not for everyone. I self-published it because Canadian publishers told me Canadians are not interested in my story. I don’t know about that. Thousands of Canadians have already read it. James Joyce had to self-publish ULYSSES. Herman Melville had to self-publish MO BY DICK. Chester Brown, who gave me this fantastic illustration, got tired of hearing from publishers no want was interested in his unique form of comic art. He self-published his work until DRAWN  & QUARTERLY picked it up: .

You have the wrong attitude. If you leave this school today you will starve in two weeks,” my high school principal told me in the middle of my last year.

Hearing his words I got up, left his office and began my life.

Had I not left I would have starved.

THE ROCHDALE IDEA, that we are to be our own teacher, is the only one that works. In this moment when COVID 19 has forced the closing of colleges, schools and universities everywhere, it is good to remind people  of it.

Most, of course, will reject the idea. The best know it is true.

I had wonderful teachers in the first and second grades who taught me everything I know. After that, I’m afraid, the teachers were nice, but they were dopes…I have a lack of ideology, and not because I have an animus against any particular ideology; it’s just that they don’t make sense to me…they get in the way of thinking. I don’t see what use they are…University and uniformity, as ideals, have subtly influenced how people thought about education, politics, economics, government, everything…We are misled by universities and other intellectual institutions to believe that there are separate fields of knowledge. But it’s clear there are no separate fields of knowledge. It is a seamless web.”-Jane Jacobs.

“A great artist lets himself go. He is natural. He swims easily in the stream of his own temperament. He listens to himself, he respects himself. He has a deeper fund of strength to draw from than that arising from rational and logical knowledge.

“The function of the artist is to disturb. His duty is to arouse the sleeper to shake the complacent killers of the world. He reminds the world of its dark ancestry, shows the world its present and points the way to its new birth.  He is at once the product and the preceptor of his time….In a world terrified of change, he preaches revolution – the principle of life.  He is an agitator, a disturber of the peace, quick, impatient, positive, restless and disquieting.  He is the creative spirit of life working in the soul of men.”—Dr. Norman Bethune.

“Most teachers say you should go to school to get your degree to have something to fall back on. Aside from being a huge lie, that also creates a very high level of mediocrity, because nobody who really believes that is going to take the leap of faith required to be a serious artist. Stay out of school.”–Ellis Marsalis to his sons Branford, Delfeayo and Wynton.

“He who without the Muse’s madness in his soul comes knocking at the door of poesy and thinks that art will make him anything fit to be called a poet, finds that the poetry which he indites in his sober senses is beaten hollow by the poetry of madmen.”-Plato.

“My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself.”–George Bernard Shaw.

“Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.’–Bertrand Russell.

“School is an institution built on the axiom that learning is the result of teaching. And institutional wisdom continues to accept this axiom, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary,”–Ivan Illich.

“We get three educations. The first is from our parents; the second is from our schoolmasters. The third is from life. The last makes liars of the first two.”–Montesquieu.

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very great mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.”–Albert Einstein.

“Where in the wide history of the world do we find art created by the excessively wealthy, powerful, or educated?”— David Mamet.

“You will encounter in your travels folks of your own age who chose the institutional path, who became administrators rather than doers. These folks chose to serve an institutional authority in exchange for a paycheck, and these folks are going to be with you for the rest of your life, and you who come up off the street, who live without certainty day to day and year to year are going to have to bear with being called children by these institutional types; you will, as Shakespeare tells us, endure ‘the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes.’ “It is not childish to live with uncertainty, to devote oneself to an idea rather than an institution. It’s courageous and requires a courage of the order that the institutionally co-opted are ill equipped to perceive. They are so unequipped to perceive it that they can only call it childish, and so excuse their exploitation of you.”– David Mamet, TRUE AND FALSE. (Edited)

“Invent nothing. Deny nothing. Stand up. Speak up. Stay out of school.”–David Mamet.






« »