September 9, 2003

"We love grass/We love ass... We eat pussy/We're not fussy... We hate war/We love sex/In twos or threes/Fours or fives"
-- From the Fugs' "we are the Fugs," released in 1965

the fugs: a total assult on culture.

"The Fugs were led by Ed Sanders, of midwestern origins and Tuli Kupferberg, of New York birth. Both were poets in the beatnik vein, and each self-published his own lit journal; Kupferberg with 'Birth' and Sanders with 'Fuck You: A Magazine Of the Arts.' They ended up living in close proximity, centered around the Peace Eye Bookstore which Sanders owned and operated out of an abandoned Kosher butcher store on 10th Street, between Avenue B and Avenue C.

"Motivations for forming the band exhibited all the de rigeur tenets of the time: getting laid, getting fucked-up, getting paid to make a racket, and talk a lot about peace and (free) love. They picked up various members -- who floated in and out -- including some members of the Holy Modal Rounders, a psych-country band that featured Peter Stampfel and future playwrite Sam Shepard sputtering, pin-eyed, through some excruciating workouts. Within a year of their first rehearsal, they had a contract with Folkways, the result of animator Harry Smith's curatorial work for the label.

"It's important to remember that Sanders and Kupferberg were hot on the poetry case and both knew their shit pretty thoroughly; their stated, 10-point program basically boiled down to a bacchic frenzy, transliterated in their time to mean drugs and fucking. Being upstanding lefties, they also had strong anti-war sentiments and each had been arrested for their protest efforts. Their lyrics took one of several forms: cock-waving, testes-driven humor; verses lifted from William Blake or AC Swinburn; or beatniked couplets, sung and shouted.

"Musically, they drew heavily from the rock trough; scuttled-through country tunes, percussion chants, canticles, Hebraic-tinged sing-songs, and a few moments with hymn-like qualities. It isn't that simple to sum up though, since that mix was a cluttered, spitting mess. But it was a complex and complete mess -- an inept totality. These tunes were posited at a highly interesting time: the beat impulse had been thoroughly digested by the free-thinking youth of the era, and hippiedom had just finished its gestation period and cut its umbilical cord. In the downtown New York arena, Alan Kaprow and his Happenings, Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, John Cage, and the Fluxus Artists were all making public spec-tacles. The emphasis was on crushing and discarding old formulas; these were experiments where randomness and chance were allowed prominence -- anything went and method was equal, if not superior, to content."


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