As I flog my memoir, one of the recurring questions I am asked is, “What did you leave out?” In fact, I cut a few stories out for personal reasons, and a few others that I forgot, only to be recalled weeks after the book was already on press. But there was one image I could not find that I really wanted to show and discuss— hence I left it out of the book.
The publication that influenced my decision to become a working member of the Underground Press (and a lifelong fan of political satire) was the December 1967 issue (below) of The East Village Other (EVO). Its cover features Francis Cardinal Spellman, New York City’s most powerful cleric, who also served as Vicar of the United States Army during the Vietnam War period. He was a fervent hawk and the object of ire among anti-war protesters like myself, who blamed him, in part, for the deadly military build–up.
The issue came out a week after he died on December 2, 1967, congratulating him “on his promotion.” I thought it was the most hysterical headline I’d ever read, and I was converted by that into a weekly EVO reader.
It has been over 50 years since last I saw the cover that introduced me to such rebellious comical wickedness. I have quoted the title for years as exemplary of truly savage wit (the kind of mean and biting humor that is matter-of-fact today, yet taboo or at least in bad taste in 1967). EVO wasn’t the only protest against the Cardinal’s reactionary hawkish stance; some may recall this anti-war poster by Edward Sorel.
I recently found a copy online after unsuccessfully searching for many months to use it in my memoir as a seminal artifact. However, I had a different memory of the cover in mind, which might have been one reason I couldn’t easily track it down. I recalled it as being a full page “official” portrait, the kind that hung in parochial school classrooms. In my imagining, the logo and type were printed in green; it was completely different, save for the title.
Regardless, I’m glad I found it. It is still funny. On one level, it is a respectful farewell; on another, it is a razor sharp barb. Good satire does that.