Reports from the Bibliographic Bunker
Jed Birmingham on William S. Burroughs Collecting
In the wake of the Fuck You Press Cockatrices article, I have been hoping for some inside poop to drop into my mailbox. No such luck so far, but I did call James Musser of Skyline Books in order to purchase Ed Sanders’ Catalog #2. We were shooting the shit on all things Fuck You and he mentioned that he had a few of the items listed almost a decade ago. The story he told was fascinating.
One fine day in Berkeley, Musser got a call from a legendary bookman, Peter Howard of Serendipity Books. Turns out the wife of Bill Beckman dropped off a shopping bag of Fuck You Press items at the store. Bill Beckman? Bill Beckman? It sounded familiar to Musser and then it hit him. A-12(a) in Maynard & Miles: the Fuck You Press edition of APO-33. The bibliography mentions that Bill Beckman obtained a nice copy. I had always thought Beckman bought it from the Phoenix Bookshop, but Beckman, an underground comix artist, did some of the bookbinding for Fuck You limited editions and apparently got a copy straight from Sanders.
Beckman created Captain High, which was one of the first comix disseminated on a mass level (by the East Village Other, where Beckman was art director). He was featured in the Peace Eye exhibition on underground comix in 1968. By the late 1960s, Beckman moved out to Bolinas and edited The Bolinas Hit, which ran for two issues, with Jim Brodey and Tom Clark in 1969. Kevin Opstedal in his history of the literary community in Bolinas has this to say about Beckman and The Hit:
Another New York refugee in Bolinas at this time was underground comics pioneer and cofounder of the East Village Other, Bill Beckman. He and his family were renting space in a building called the “Cliffhouse,” on the mesa, until they could find more permanent accommodations. Beckman wasted little time before making his presence in Bolinas known via the publication of a crazy little production called The Bolinas Hit.
The bastard dream-child of Bill Beckman, The Bolinas Hit was a magazine / tabloid publication consisting of eight pages of pure anarchy. The first issue (May 1, 1969) carried a cover photo of two men, pictured from the waist down, dressed in some sort of military or police uniform, complete with jackboots. One man is kneeing the other in the groin. Inset is the following quote attributed (via Frank O’Hara) to Franz Kline: “To be right is the most terrific personal state that nobody is interested in.” The Hit contained poems, a procedure for the manufacture of LSD, a first-person account of an escape from a Mexican jail, Bill Beckman’s “Laying the Foundation” (first in a four-part series on the sport of card / house building), and a photo of the bloated tongue of a dead whale (“courtesy of the Hit Culinary Corner”).
With a cover price of 25 cents, The Hit was printed by the infamous underground comics publisher Rip Off Press in San Francisco. The staff was listed as follows — Publisher: Bill Beckman, Guest Editor: Tom Clark, Hostage Editor: Jim Brodey. In the second (and last) issue, dated June 1, 1969, the staff was listed as Publisher: Bill Beckman, Guest Editor: Tom Clark, Photography: Tom Goodwin, Artists-in-residence: Bill Oetinger and Gordon Baldwin. The cover of the second issue featured a photo of Bolinas resident Bill DesLoge on Brighton Beach wearing a gorilla mask and holding a sign that read “God is getting pissed.” The issue featured a brief excerpt from Bob Dylan’s Tarantula, poems by Richard Emil Braun, Ron Padgett, John Giorno, David Henderson, Gerard Malanga & Tom Clark, and an article entitled “An Overdose of Hasheesh” reprinted from Popular Science Monthly, February, 1884.
The Bolinas Hit was an exercise in social and artistic anarchy, with flourishes of dada-inspired goofiness, as demonstrated in the following bit in the Want Ads —
Wanted VENUSIAN DOG HAIR. Any
amount sufficient. Send details
to Hit, box 242, Bolinas.
It was an inspired and somewhat crazed, totally bohemian, and seriously twisted publication, and in that, a suitable document of Bolinas in 1969.
Sounds a lot like a Fuck You Press publication, don’t it?
Needless to say, Musser found the time to head down to Serendipity. The legendary copy of APO-33 was in the bag as was a wide selection of other Fuck You Press material. Particularly interesting are the ephemera, mostly announcing Fugs events. This supports what Brian Cassidy and I were thinking on our way back from New York City. There are a bunch of handbills out there that remain unaccounted for in bibliographic sources. Musser has been kind enough to allow me to reprint the catalog entries of the rarer items. I have not included those entries which are already in the Fuck You Press Archive. For these new entries, I obviously have no images so, please, if you have any of these, send in a scan. I start off with APO-33 for old times’ sake.
BURROUGHS, William S. Health Bulletin: APO-33 a Metabolic Regulator. NY: Fuck You Press, 1965. 4to. Mimeographed sheets, stapled at the edge. The correct first edition. The legendarily rare Fuck You Press edition of this title published by Ed Sanders who abandoned the project before completion. According to Sanders “maybe as many as ten or twenty” copies were distributed before he halted publication due to Burroughs’ dissatisfaction with the copy he’d received. Maynard and Miles state that “a good early copy was secured by Bill Beckman,” and that is the copy offered here. Bill Beckman was an artist from Texas who designed album covers for The Fugs, and a good friend of Sanders who regularly gave him copies of current Fuck You Press publications. This copy bears Beckman’s ownership signature on the title page. If 10 or 20 copies did exist originally, far fewer have been accounted for. We know of only 3 copies in private hands, NUC and WORLDCAT turn up no copies in institutions (though there is a copy at Northwestern), and we’ve never seen a copy offered for sale. The cover sheet has pulled loose from two staples, else fine with all of the illustrations pasted in. Housed in a handsome clamshell box.
[DRUGS] Handbill announcing a “Marijuana March” in the East Village ca. 1965. Prints a long text about repealing marijuana prohibition. Produced by Ed Sanders using the Fuck You Press mimeo on behalf of LEMAR (an early marijuana reform group). An early pro-legalization item. Staple holes to the left edge, else fine.
[DRUGS] Handbill announcing “Free Marijuana Prisoners” ca. 1965. Prints a text about marijuana arrests. Produced by Ed Sanders using the Fuck You Press mimeo on behalf of LEMAR. An early pro-legalization item. Portions of the text illegible due to mimeo flaw, staple holes to the left edge, else fine.
[THE FUGS] Handbill announcing The Fugs’ first appearance at The Bridge Theatre in Greenwich Village, 1965. “The FUGS! / Folkways recording stars / The Lower East Sides most unbelievable hallucination…rock and roll, folk spews, screams from the fear bag, amphetamine psychodrama, & dope thrill chants.” Goes on to list the band members and songs that will be performed. This gig at The Bridge Theatre was their first at a major venue, preceding their signing with ESP-Disc. Produced by Sanders on the same mimeo machine that he used for the Fuck You Press. Some inoffensive staple holes to left edge, a couple of imperceptible creases, but very nice overall. Rare early Fugs ephemera.
[THE FUGS] Handbill announcing an appearance by The Fugs at The East End Theatre, ca. 1965. “Rock and Roll folk spews, amphetamine operas, dope incantations, including all the legendary Fug hits…” Done by Sanders on the Fuck You Press mimeo machine. Staple holes to the left edge, couple of imperceptible old creases, else fine.
[THE FUGS] Handbill announcing an appearance by The Fugs at The East End Theatre, ca. 1965. “Back by Popular Demand The Fugs! The Most Unbelievable Singing Group in The History of Western Civilization — A Three Day Fug Festival.” “Admission $2.00, students & grass cadets: 99 cents.” Done by Sanders on the Fuck You Press mimeo machine. Staple holes to the left edge, couple of imperceptible old creases, else fine.
[THE FUGS] Handbill announcing an appearance by The Fugs at Ego East on the Lower East Side, ca. 1965. “Freak With the Fugs! The East Side’s Most Infinite Hallucination…” Done by Sanders on the Fuck You Press mimeo machine. Staple holes to the left edge, couple of imperceptible old creases, else fine.
[THE FUGS] Ed Sanders Newsletter, ca. 1966. 2-pages. Sanders recounts his famous obscenity bust at the Peace Eye Booksore where the police confiscated issues of Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts and other material. He also lists the current recordings and appearnces by The Fugs. Short edge tear to both pages, minor wear. Scarce.
[ROCK: The Fugs] Handbill announcing an appearance by The Fugs at the Bowery Poets Coop in the East Village, ca. 1965. “Sunday The Fugs!! in a Fugathon! Dancing Freaking Singing… A Benefit for the Fug’s Cross Country Vietnam Protest Caravan.” Done by Sanders on the Fuck You Press mimeo. Barely perceptible staple holes to left edge, some soiling to verso, else fine.
SANDERS, Ed. With Extreme Regret We Must Announce that Ed Sanders Does Not. n.p.: n.p., n.d. [but NY: Fuck You Press, ca. 1965]. 4to. Broadside. First edition. Lists eleven things Sanders will not do, ranging from “review unsolicited books” and “answer hostile letters about his publications,” to “sell dope” and “operate a snatchery for out of town squack freaks.” Staple holes to the left edge, couple of inconspicuous creases, else fine.
SANDERS, Ed. Handbill announcing a reading by Sanders at the Coda Gallery in Greenwich Village, ca 1965. “Ed Sanders Reading Peace Eye Incantations, Fug songs, Ra-prayers & Soft Man Poems.” Produced by Sanders using the Fuck You Press mimeo. Staple holes to the left edge, inconspicuous old crease, else fine.
[SANDERS, Ed & BERRIGAN, Ted] Handbill announcing a reading by Ted Berrigan and Ed Sanders at the Le Metro Cafe in Greenwich Village, ca 1965. “Attention!! Poets Space Cadets Flamebrains, Dope Freaks…” Produced by Sanders using the Fuck You Press mimeo. Staple holes to the left edge, else fine.
[SANDERS, Ed ] Legal-size mimeo handbill proclaiming “Ed Sanders Wins Obscenity Case.” Prints a text about Sander’s trial for publishing “obscene” material in Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts. One example cited was Sanders’ ad calling for “orgiasts and dick-scrunchers” for the underground movie Amphetamine Head. Also announces the re-opening of the Peace Eye Bookstore with an exhibition of relics from the Lower East Side literary scene, including Ginsberg’s signed cold cream jar, and more. Other events listed for the summer of 1967 include a showing of paintings by Sanders and Ted Berrigan. One horizontal center crease, else fine. Rare ephemera relating to Sanders, Peace Eye, and the Fuck You Press.