Monday, nothing...

A sad day.

Tuli Kupferberg passed away this afternoon. If you don't know who Tuli is, go to youtube or google and search for him or The Fugs. He was an amazing artist, poet and activist. (ok, I'll save you some time, here are links to some fun Fugs tunes, Kill For Peace | Morning Morning | Nothing )

He told me that they wanted to call the band the Fucks, but no record label would allow that in 1964, so they went for the Fugs instead. I had the opportunity to get to know him a little, while helping out with production work on his last book, a collection of his cartoons called Teach Yourself Fucking (the cover was an alteration of some old self-education book Teach Yourself Banking). I think that my life is somehow better as a result.

He was so excited that he was finally able to use the word Fuck in the title of something. His energy and playful spirit were really inspiring. He taught by example that activists and revolutionaries don't have to be angry all the time -- being silly is just as important.

The NY Times ArtsBeat blog said this today about him:

Tuli Kupferberg, the poet, singer and professional bohemian who went from being a noted Beat to becoming, in his words, "the world’s oldest rock star" when he helped found the Fugs, the bawdy and politically pugnacious folk-rock group, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 86 and had been a longtime resident of Greenwich Village.

Mr. Kupferberg has been a regular sight in Lower Manhattan, selling his satirical cartoons on the street and serving as a grandfather for bohemian types of all ages.

I am very happy to count myself among that huge collection of bohemian grandchildren.

His wikipedia page gives some interesting detail:

Naftali Kupferberg was born into a Jewish, Yiddish-speaking household in New York City. A cum laude graduate of Brooklyn College in 1944, Kupferberg founded the magazine Birth in 1958. Birth ran for only three issues but published notable Beat Generation authors such as Allen Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima, LeRoi Jones, and Ted Joans in the Beat circle.

Kupferberg reportedly appears in Ginsberg's poem Howl as the person "who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown". The incident in question actually occurred on the Manhattan Bridge, and is mentioned in the prose poem "Memorial Day 1971" written by Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman:

[Ted Berrigan] asked Tuli Kupferberg once, "Did you really jump off of The Manhattan Bridge?" "Yeah," he said, "I really did." "How come?" I said. "I thought that I had lost the ability to love," Tuli said. "So, I figured I might as well be dead. So, I went one night to the top of The Manhattan Bridge, & after a few minutes, I jumped off." "That's amazing," I said. "Yeah," Tuli said, "but nothing happened. I landed in the water, & I wasn't dead. So I swam ashore, & went home, & took a bath, & went to bed. Nobody even noticed."

After that failed suicide attempt he lived for another 60 years or so -- that's a lot of borrowed time.


Thanks, Eric. I didn't know anything of that -- except for the Monday song.