Reports from the Bibliographic Bunker
Jed Birmingham on William S. Burroughs Collecting
As the shit went down on eBay involving the Digit Junkie, Brian Cassidy and I were heading back from the NY Art Book Fair at PS 1 in Long Island City on a donut tire in a driving rain. Based on my experience this year and last, the Art Book Fair has quickly established itself as one of the highlights of the book-collecting calendar. Although I heard reports that attendance was down from last year — blame the weather, which in New York has been incredible this summer, causing twenty-three rain delays at Yankee Stadium — the crowds were impressive. The living dead hipsters do come out in the daytime. Maybe the overcast skies were not such a bad thing after all. The fair is a mix of book dealers specializing in artists’ and art-related books; established publishers like MIT Press, Yale, and Princeton; legends in the field like Franklin Furnace and Printed Matter; and legions of artists and poets churning out zines and mags that prove the Mimeo Revolution did not die with the Reagan Years.
One thing is clear: the little magazines of the Mimeo Revolution have a bright future. If you were a dealer and you had a complete run of a mag, the chances were good that you were going to sell it. Fuck You Press material is hotter than a sheep fuck in a Turkish bath. John McWhinnie sold a bunch of Fuck You Magazines signed by Ed Sanders as I was looking on. Now I would not know what they sold for since McWhinnie does not see the reason to supply prices. This is the book-dealing equivalent of a “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. Quite frankly, this policy is annoying. Book collectors are not haus fraus eating dinner at a French restaurant in the 1950s. You can put the prices on the menu. We can handle it. Somehow last year I managed to buy the Exorcise the Pentagon flyer from McWhinnie. To be honest, I am not quite sure how it all went down. Background and financial checks, a good word from some of the Select, and, maybe, an under-the-table handjob or secret handshake. A complete mystery. The book-buying experience should not be like walking the velvet rope at Studio 54 in 1978. That said McWhinnie has all the beautiful-people books you could want: Richard Prince, Warhol, Ruscha, punk royalty like Richard Hell. It is bittersweet that Ed Sanders, the Fugs, and Fuck You are noshing at this bibliographic Max’s of Kansas City, but it cannot be denied that they are. From the aforementioned Fuck You Magazines to the Fugs concert handbill to the Kill for Peace 45 lp to Ed Sanders’s copy of Roosevelt after Inauguration, McWhinnie once again has the best drugs. As long as he has all the glitz and glamour in his salon, collectors are going to humiliate themselves personally and financially to get in. As Eric Burdon of the Animals sang, “And God, I know I’m one.” He can sell his stunningly attractive books how he wants and, as those issues of Fuck You prove (along with a Taylor Mead diary), sell them he does. Once again his booth was one of the highlights of the show.
But other dealers had great Fuck You items as well. At Anartist a crisp copy of the Mad Motherfucker issue sans Warhol cover was snatched up. Kate and Adam Davis of Division Leap had a copy of John Ashbery’s Fuck You Quote of the Week. (Pick up a copy of their self-titled little mag, which riffs on the best of Semina Culture. It looks great.) There was a copy of Bugger. I picked up, thanks to Adam, a copy of Ed Sanders’s Catalogue Number 1 from Karma.
As far as I can tell, the Fuck You Press Archive on RealityStudio is inching toward functioning as a substantial bibliography of the Press’s output. Marguerite Harris’s An Absolute and Glorious New Year 1965 is missing as is The Ed Sanders Newsletter from 1966. The first edition first printing of The Fugs Songbook is a big hole (Alexander Books in Vermont currently has a copy for $750), but like a blossoming Slum Goddess from the Lower East Side, the Archive is filling out nicely.
This got Brian and I talking on our wobbly ride back from New York. What else is out there? Hopefully Ed Sanders’s forthcoming book, Fug You, will clear all this up, but until then a record of Fuck You Press’s complete output remains a work in progress. Brian and I agreed that tracking all the ephemera, like handbills and reading announcements, is a monumental task that may be beyond even Sanders’ knowledge given the hazy circumstances of their publication. But as well as being a poet, novelist, printer, and singer, Sanders is a historian and archivist. Chances are good he kept meticulous records.
The Ed Sanders and Peace Eye book catalogues are examples of the invaluable record-keeping that, for the diligent collector, are available. Not only are these catalogues extremely funny and one of the finest examples of bibliographic humor (sadly such a genre does indeed exist) that I know of, they are great literary reference materials. It figures that Sanders was a great bookseller as well. Before the counterculture collecting boom of the 1990s, before Ken Lopez, James Musser, John LeBow (to name the dealers and catalogues that taught me about collecting and Burroughs when I started in 1993), yes, even before McWhinnie, there was Peace Eye Bookstore, and Sanders had all the good shit (and pubic hair and cumshots) from all your counterculture heroes. From first editions to limited editions to literary archives (like the ones for The White Dove Review and Paul Blackburn) to letters, Sanders sold it all. In fact it could be argued that he created (and satirized) the market. Barry Miles of Better Books and Indica also comes to mind, but he did so without the tongue-in-cheek and kiss-my-ass demeanor.
Brian noted that the Catalogues would be a great place to look in filling out a Fuck You Press bibliography. A brilliant idea but the problem is I do not know if all the Fuck You special and limited editions listed in the Catalogue actually existed. Banana is a great example of a Fuck You Sasquatch. Reva Wolf in her indispensable book on Warhol and the poetry scene provides the details surrounding Banana. Around the time Warhol supplied the Couch cover to the Mad Motherfucker Issue, he suggested Sanders compile an anthology, like Bugger on anal sex, on the topic of bananas. The project was advertised in the Fuck You Talk of the Town in the Mad MotherFucker Issue: “preparing the fug-press publication of ‘BANANA, an anthology of Strap Verse, Dike Shrieks, harness poems & worshipful emanations from the Shrine of The Bull Tongue Clit.'” Wolf confirms Banana never got beyond the planning stage. Interestingly the same Talk of the Town announced Fuck You’s first movie-making venture: “Mongolian Cluster Fuck: a short but searing non-socially redeeming porn flick featuring 100’s of the lower east side’s finest, with musical background by Algernon Charles Swinburne & THE FUGS!!”
As I told Brian, the Catalogues are filled with tantalizing and mysterious Fuck You related items. He suggested a list of these items would make a great RealityStudio post. What follows is that list. I am missing Catalog 2 and 4.5, so the list is no doubt incomplete but even so it provides a great sample of the comic and bibliographic genius of the Catalogues. It also provides an opportunity for readers out there to provide any feedback they might have on any of the items listed.
Jersey Devils, Loveland Frogs, and other Fuck You Press Cockatrices
Burroughs, William. THE ROOSEVELT AFTER INAUGURATION PAPERS. A folio of all preliminary sheets, doodles, notes, drawings (contains the only instance in Ginsbergania of an attempt by him to draw a piece of shit), the text, a copy of the first edition (which was so fucked up with typos etc that it was entirely destroyed except for two copies), a copy of 2nd edition (this was limited 500 edition), & a signed (Ginzap) copy of the Yage Letters. ($40.00)
Fainlight, Harry. An autographed copy of FUCK YOU / a magazine of the arts, number 5, volume 7 (THE GOD ISSUE) in which Fainlight’s 4 page poem THE SPIDER was first published. ($7.50)
Fuck You, a Magazine of the Arts. A full set as above but in the signed limited numbered BOILING SPERM EDITION. Fuck You/Number 5, volume 2 appeared in two editions, the trade & Boiling Sperm Edition, an edition of signed, numbered copies (editor’s signature, edition of 10 copies) with a genuine blotch of the editor’s sperm on the cover. ($75.00)
Fuck You? Letter to the editor. A letter (on church stationery) from a Benedictine Father in Minneapolis, Minn. Requesting a copy of FUCK YOU / A MAGAZINE OF THE ARTS, plus the latest copy of MANual, TRIM, and GRECIAN GUILD PICTORIAL. Suitable for framing. ($5.00)
Fuck You / a magazine of the arts. An entire run including all that will be published in the future with a guarantee that 80% of the poems will be signed by the authors. First 11 issues, approximately 100 signatures, available July 1st. Only one set to be offered ever. ($500.00)
BUGGER, AN ANTHOLOGY OF ANAL EROTIC, POUND CAKE, CORNHOLE, ARSE-FREAK, & DRECK POEMS. This is the incredibly evil FUCK YOU / press publication, published in 5 editions (send for particulars); The Trade Edition, The Rough Trade Edition, The Special Bugger Fantasy Edition, The Trembling Buttock Edition & The Pygophile Edition.
THE BUGGER PAPERS. These are all the documents involved in the publication of BUGGER, An Anthology of Buttockry. Published by the Fuck You Press. Included are 11 pages of editorial notes, and SIGNED manuscripts from Allen Ginsberg (a really brilliant two page section from a long unpublished work), Szabo, Al Fowler, Ed Sanders, Ted Berrigan, Ron Padgett, John Harriman, John Keys; Included also is a copy of the Bugger anthology with each poem signed by the author. The original unbelievable fantastic drawings for the cover & insides are also included. ($25.00)
SANDERS. Another Sanders FUCK YOU Press & poetry notebook. Contains at the beginning 30 pages of drafts & notes for his long Gobble Gang Poems (soon to be published — see item 127); then 5 or 6 pages of notes for the format of Fuck You #5 vol. 4; many notes for editorial scene in Fuck You #5 vol. 7. There are many weird notes stuck in loose among the pages of the book. Parts of Sanders’ unpublished “Hymn to the Existential Hole.” About 60 pages filled. ($7.50)
THE FUGS!!!! Here is offered a copy of all the FUG POSTERS for their concerts to date plus a Brochure from THE AMERICAN THEATRE FOR POETS which prints two of their legendary hits. The FUGS, Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg, Ken Weaver, Peter Stampfel & Steve Weber, sing & freak out unbelievable songs; The I Saw The Best Minds of My Generation Rock, Coca Cola Douche, Bull Tongue Clit, etc. Included also is a copy the very limited invitation to the party for the THIRD ANNIVERSARY ISSUE of Fuck You a Magazine of the Arts, at which the Fugs had their world premiere. The concert posters were printed & designed by the Fuck You Press. 4 posters, 1 invitation, 1 brochure. ($4.00) (The invitation is on RealityStudio; anybody have knowledge or info about the brochure or posters?)
Marijuana Newsletter Papers. This is two stuffed folders full of the entire manuscripts, editorial notes by Ed Sanders, formats, drawings, etc used in the printing, & production of Marijuana Newsletters #1 & 2. About 100 sheets. Also, two original hand-corrected typescripts by William Burroughs. Also a very short signed letter from Burroughs to Sanders. ($20.00)
Sanders. Hand cover notebook containing many first drafts of poetry & editorial notes for the upcoming Fuck You a magazine of the Arts (#5, Vol 9). Contains several first drafts from his new book PEACE EYE, from another forthcoming book CEMETERY HILL, from SUM #2, et al. About 45 pages. ($7.50).
SPECIAL BOXED LEATHER BOUND VOLUMES OF FUCK YOU A MAGAZINE OF THE ARTS. Here are offered boxed leather bound beautifully appointed individual issues of Fuck You a magazine of the arts. With the embossed hand stamped signature of the bookbinder, the artist William Beckman. What is here offered: #5, Vol. 5 boxed in slip case. Contains work by Harry Fainlight, Lenore Kandel, Huncke, Keys, Orlovsky, and the famous poems THE CHANGE, by Allen Ginsberg. #5 Vol. 6, contains work by Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, Al Fowler, Szabo, Berge, et al. This is a special edition with the title page SIGNED by the contributors, six signatures in all. #5 vol #2. Contains the famous cover of Little Orphan Annie getting her eyeball fucked by Sandy. Work by John Wieners, Berge , Taylor MEAD!, Keys, et al. This is the Writhing Squack Issue. These have to be seen to be believed. Inspection on approval invited. Fuck You is the freakiest mag in this part of the century. Each: ($20.00).
Marijuana Newsletter # 3. Sanders, Beckman, et al. ($0.25)
Sanders (Ed). An Ed Sanders / Edmund Wilson publication listing with regret the things and services that E. Sanders does not perform. “With extreme regret we must announce that Ed Sanders does not 1) review books 2) criticize manuscripts 3) fuck unsolicited snatch 4) sell dope 5) indiscriminately bugger.” Etc Etc. Signed by Sanders. Each ($0.50)
Sanders. THE COMPLETE SEX POEMS OF ED SANDERS. Limited Edition, Hard Cover, signed, numbered from 1 to 50. Contains The Gobble Gang Poems, The Toe Queen Poems, Blow Job Poem, Sheep Fuck Poem, Corn Hole Poem, Aphrodite, The Banana Poems, and the complete Tit Shriek Poems. Sanders has designed & added his infinite sex drawings, a must for collectors and grope cadets. The Limited Edition ($15.00)
Sanders. The Evilness Notebook. A notebook which contains many notes for Sanders’ book PEACE EYE, notes and editorial plans for issues of Fuck You a magazine of the arts, original unpublished poems, personal notes, etc. Approximately 40 pages. ($12.50)
THE FUGS!!! The most unbelievable emanation of the culture of the Lower East Side. The Rolling Stones of the l.e.s. Here is offered the FUGS sweatshirts, sizes small, medium and large. White sweatshirts with red white and blue FUGS stenciled on it. ($3.50)
FUGS tee shirts with red white and blue FUGS stenciled on it. ($2.00)
Fugs panties, black or red with FUGS in gold on the crotch ($2.00) specify size
BUGGER, an anthology of homage to the art of butt fucking. Original famous first edition of Fuck You press in 1964. This particular copy was used by Sargent Fetta (the officer who arrested Sanders in 1966 on charges of possession of obscene publications) in preparing his case against Sanders. Accordingly the good sergeant typed out a list of things he considered objectionable in the publication on a sheet of paper and stapled it to the front cover. Particularly distressing to Fetta was Sanders immortal Corn Hole poem on page 4 and John Keys poem on page 12. This historical publication and appended police document, only ($8.50)