After high school and an interlude at Ohio State (which ended when he told a creative writing professor to go fuck himself), Ellison moved to New York.
Almost from the start, he dealt with his Jewishness as he’s dealt with everything in his life—in a messy, neurotic, funny, public, defensive, tasteless, and frequently embarrassing way.
In one installment of his Los Angeles Free Press TV column, which he wrote in the countercultural patois of the times (the late ’60s), Ellison offers up the “Berkowitz of Belsen” concept to any network executives looking to jazz up their sitcom line-up:
“Our hero is Morris Berkowitz, an engaging scoundrel of the Phil Silvers-Sgt. Bilko stripe, whose hilarious exploits among the quicklime pits and gas chambers of Belsen is calculated to send you into paroxysms of joy. I can see a typical segment now: Berkowitz has flummoxed the cuddly Kommandant of Belsen into selling him half a dozen ovens for purposes of setting Berkowitz up in the pizza business. Conservative, Orthodox and Reform pizzas, all with meat.”