America, A History in Verse….

America, A History in Verse. Vol 3. 1962-1970

Ed Sanders, shaper of the exploding hippie culture of the 60’s, co-founder of the legendary Fugs and the Peace Eye Bookstore on the Lower East Side in the early 60’s, author of The Family (one of the best books about the Manson Family), has released another book of poetry, America, A History in Verse. Vol 3. 1962-1970, which just got a quite favorable two-page review in the LA Times (subscriber only) Sunday Book Review.

The Fugs had a huge impact on me. They were outrageous, profane, funny, spiritual, horny, and completely broke the mold as to what music groups could do. They influenced a lot of people.

From the review, this particularly grabbed me:

Yet he <Sanders> is not afraid to examine his own errors. In an entry on the 1967 Summer of Love, and the counterculture he helped spawn, he writes

It made great copy for mass culture sources such as
The 6 o’clock news or Life magazine

but nothing is easy
& the long-time all-level fierceness
required to forge such social change
was not quite there in the Zone of Fun.

That could be said other social and political movements too. Effecting real and lasting change requires white hot commitment lasting years, if not decades. Still, Hippie spawned huge changes in the culture like the environmental movement, feminism, mistrust of the government (yes kids, in the 60’s if you said the government was lying to us, people thought you must be a drug-addled commie prevert, now everyone assumes the government is lying.) And the culture war that began then is still raging. Rightwing zealots reside in the White  House while a subversive movie about their corruption and deceit gets international attention – sounds like a culture war to me.

Sanders is right though, for real, serious change, we need that "fire in the belly".

PS In 2003, the Fugs released The Fugs Final CD, Vol. 1, which was maybe their best yet; howlingly funny, dead-on political barbs, mixed with mystic yearnings and William Blake poetry. Not to mention the participation of 80 year old co-founder Tuli Kupferberg, who is just as horny, political, and funny as ever. God bless ’em all!

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