Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Blobby Universe: Having My Mind Blown by the East Village Other (Panel)

Listening to a panel live from Cooper Union of folks who founded the alternative and influential underground '60s paper The East Village Other.  They're all senior citizens now! (Ed Sanders, Alex Gross, Peter Leggieri, Dan Rattiner, Steven Heller, and Claudia Dreifus):

Live! “Blowing Minds: The East Village Other, the Rise of Underground Comix and the Alternative Press, 1965-72”


Okay.  I'm just going to start transcribing the panel discussion here in bits and pieces, because for anyone who really knows me, they know I can't help but do this while kind of hyperventilating:

"hanging out during paste-up"  Ed Sanders

"the paper had an enourmous impact on the changes that took place in society.

"the east village other blew everyone's mind.  that's its legacy.  my only lament we cannot have in the east village that we cannot have the artist colony that used to be.  there was a time tha tall the storefronts had artists in them.  cultural policy segregated artists from the arts.  created a new world called "the arts." a world that's inhabited solely by corporations.  the collaboration was not corporate.  artist to artist to artist.  free.  evo was the last expression of the bohemian artist colony."

"evo was the flagship if the entire '60s movment."

as many as 200 of these underground newspapers in the late '60s.  similar to the internet.  it was how we communicated with weekly newspapers.

"evo opened up the mainstream press in a way it wasn't before.  evo was busted over 141 times--i stopped counting.  evo was pursued by the nypd, the cia, the fbi, the kgb and the vatican.  with friends like that you had to be doing something right.  the agencies trying to bring down evo knew they were breaking the law.  the people who did evo didn't give a damn."

"it was a very scary time in one sense.  screw was busted.  the rat was busted.  we were always infiltrated.  we decided the photograph all the guys who were photographing us."

"in the beginning it was a neighborhood newspaper.  it published news right off the street.  the fugs gave a yearly concert in tompkins square park.  i was arrested for obscenity for my bookstore.  the arresting officer did not like me.  he appeared at our concert in august of '66.  there was a bomb scare, so they stopped the concert.  who was there asking questions of this cop, was walter borat of the evo with a tape recorder.  walter made a tape transcript.  evo's hands-on, very specific.  isolating the causes of the time:  the war, lsd, pot, the commune movement.  it was right on."

"the largest artist colony that had ever assembled in the world has been wiped out.  the city knew it was destroying this artist colony.  while that colony was being destroyed it was also generating an american renaissance in the arts."

"go try and find the 115,000 canvases that were produced by the wpa artists."

"one of the reasons why america is having problems now is that it no longer believes in this kind of creativity."

"rent control was what made the lower east side so vibrant.  it is no longer possible to be decently poor. what my students have now instead is $100,000 in student debt."

"thanks to photo offset, a printing process that made images possible."

"there was also an underground film movement in new york at the time.  kenneth anger, jonas mekas.  one of the things that evo did was cover underground film and reviewed rock and roll.  this wasn't common then.  only in the alternative press did you see this kind of reporting."

"every generation needs to respond to a new situation.  thanks to evo we were inspired to doing the shadow.  the evo and the rat were influences for the shadow.  there's nothing like holding a newspaper in your hands.  feeling it, taking it in your hand."


  1. i love the mini-ecosystem of the east village. so much happened and is still happening in such a small geographical space.

    1. i also love that you ended up there, jt. as if everything in your life cosmically prepared you for it.