Another from my younger days

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Another from my younger days gone with the passing Monday of one Naftali Kupferberg, better known as "Tuli," co-founder of the political-satirical group known as The Fugs.

If one spent any time below 14th Street, par­ticularly in the East Village around Tompkins Square, in the early '60s, you probably came across Tuli.


Older than many of the others around that time, Tuli, Ed San­ders and I used to read our poems at Les Deux Mégots on East 7th Street between Second and Third Avenues on open "mic" Mondays when the two Fugs used to delight in horrifying the elderly ladies who'd taken the subway from Brooklyn to recite their ersatz Edna St. Vincent Millay.

(Their imagery was earthy and laden with the Anglo-Saxon vulgate.)

I didn't realize it then since "the Summer of Love" was still some years away, but Tuli was one of a tiny number of those who spanned the disaffected black & white "Beats" of the '50s and the rambunctious and colorful "Hippies" who arrived a decade later.

(Two others are poet Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady, a central figure in various literature, including Jack Kerouac's "On The Road," and designated driver of Ken Kesey's psychedelic bus "Further," cele­brated in Tom Wolfe's "The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test.")

I cannot say I'll miss him, since I haven't thought of Tuli in almost 40 years, but I did want to observe his passing at age 86.


1. Hampton West said...

The Fugs - yes! On the cutting edge in their time. I did catch them once when I was 15 years old - they played the old Anderson Theatre on Second Avenue - it was pretty strange and there were cops in the audience - the four letter words were sung but the police did nothing. If I recall correctly Sanders went on to write a book about Charles Manson long before Vincent Bugliosi.

Excellent recall! You're correct on several counts. "The Family" appeared three years before "Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders," and he was able to get inside "the family" in much the same way that Hunter S. Thompson did with "Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga," but didn't have to suffer a stomping to get out.

2. HDHouse said...

fyi: This topic came up on another blog.

Surprised that it didn't come up on more.
– Dean

3. Tugboat Bertha said...

You are a poet, too? How did I not know that? You are a gentleman, a scholar, and honest reporter, and also a poet!! Holy smokes, Speir, I can hardly take it in.

Poetry? Well, I used to, but I don't much anymore... though on occasion my wife (with obvious bias attached) tell me an OtBB passage "sings."

I guess most writers are capable of poetry. Willikers, read Truman Capote's first book, "Other Voices, Other Rooms," written long before he became a sot and a kept pet of Manhattan society. It is a 240+ page poetic evocation of a decaying post-bellum South that has never been surpassed.

4. Barbara Ramsay said...

I had a Fugs Album!
I liked them!

I always suspected that back then you wore too much eye-liner, sported sandals and no bra, and had IUD coils in your pierced ears! (And you'd've turned my head then, as well.)

5. Surf's Up! said...

I didn't realize IUD coils were supposed to be worn in the ear... no wonder I have children!

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