Ed Sanders was a huge influence on my middle teens, when on Saturday nights I’d go to the Bridge on St. Marks Place and watch the FUGS, a scraggly band of East Village beat/hippies play songs like “Kill For Peace,” “Slum Goddess,” “Nothing,” “Boobs a Lot” and more. Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg led the group, which also included Ken Weaver, Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber. Sanders sang lead on most songs. What I didn’t know then, but later learned, is that he was also the proprietor of the Peace Eye Book Shop and editor of Fuck You / A Magazine Of The Arts, a leader in the “mimeograph revolution” that was, arguably, along with Paul Krassner’s The Realist, one of the earliest New York underground publications. It was certainly one of the key periodicals to test the values of an uptight New York establishment.
Sanders and his collaborators bridged the Beats of the Fifties and the counterculture of the late Sixties, and helped define many of the differences between the two.
I met Sanders only a few times, when I was working at the East Village Other, and then more recently at an EVO reunion at NYU. (Sanders was one of the panelists.) But I’ve long held a great deal of respect for his work and place in history.
I just learned that Granary Books is offering for sale a considerable portion of Ed Sanders’ archive. This is not intended for personal hoarding but should be readily accessible through a library or other institution to the world.
The Ed Sanders Archive is a remarkable record of the legendary poet, writer, editor, publisher, activist, Fugs founder and icon of American counterculture. Beginning with his first poems written while he still lived in Missouri (1955), it encompasses all of Sanders’ expansive life and career. The archive is a unique resource that allows for the exploration into Sanders’ seminal contributions to the Mimeo Revolution and American poetry, as well as his legacy in the American underground and counterculture with his political activism and his music. The archive itself has long been spoken of by scholars as well as fans. Sanders organized the archive over a 10-year period. Due to its size it is housed in multiple buildings and locations at his and his wife Miriam’s home in Woodstock, NY, where they have lived since 1974.
The archive contains approximately 354 boxes (primarily “bankers boxes”), 54 spring binders (exceeding 8,300 pages), 39 3-ring binders, 27 archival boxes, 10 photo boxes, 23 boxes of audio and video tapes, 7 filing cabinets, approx. 60 books, 21 shelf-feet of alphabetical and chronological files, 1 mimeograph machine, 11 electronic musical instruments (The Electronic Bard System), the Peace Eye Bookstore sign, and assorted other items.
I hope that this material will find the home it deserves and the scholars that will do it justice.