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Lynda Crawford on John and Yoko’s Leftovers and EVO’s Post-Salad Days

Lynda Crawford 1971 by Kathy Streem Kathy Streem Lynda Crawford, 1971

Breathless — not just from the late-night climb up 11 flights to the EVO office on East 12th Street, or the astonishing art by the likes of Yossarian, Spain, Little Moon, Joe Schenkman, Brad Holland, R. Crumb, Kim Deitch, Trina Robbins, and Fred Mogubgub, or by Dean Latimer‘s gorgeous prose, or the thrill of reading Ray Schultz, or from the stunning reportage of Jackie Friedrich, Pat Morris, and Claudia Dreifus, or the amazing true life adventures of Coca Crystal (subduing a would-be attacker with a tune on her guitar) and Steve Kraus, or the Krassner interview by Kathy Streem, or the wondrous music reviews by Richard Meltzer and Charlie Frick (and Charlie’s magical layouts), or Tuli’s poetry and songs, Vincent Titus’ fables, Honest Bob Singer’s film writings, Rex Weiner’s off-off Broadway reviews (he was homeless and theaters were warm), Tim Leary’s communiqués from Algeria, A. J. Weberman‘s illuminating investigative portraits, or the vocal harmonies of Steve Heller, Latimer, and Schultz; but also from EVO’s coverage of the major events of the time: efforts to stop the Vietnam War, the Pentagon Papers, the Panther 21 trial, American Indian Movement protests, the murder of George Jackson, the Attica uprising, and Bob Dylan’s 30th birthday party, all produced at high intensity under editor Jaakov Kohn‘s benign leadership.

“EVO is not a tit!” I remember editor Allen Katzman telling several of us when salaries were slashed to the single digits, and then disappeared, during the post–salad days of the early 1970s — my tenure.

I waitressed to pay the rent on my $51-per-month apartment on East Sixth Street and to be able to eat a little more than the nightly fare of free chicken wings and chickpeas at Max’s Kansas City that many subsisted on. The EVO piece I wrote that is most remembered came out of that gig at a deli on Christopher Street when John and Yoko happened in one night and I interpreted their relationship through bits of conversation, body language, and by dissecting leftover pieces of blueberry blintz (A. J. gave me kudos for that one); it was reprinted in the Berkeley Barb and a bunch of other papers too. Read more…

Steven Heller’s Dada

Screen shot 2012-01-15 at 10.51.44 AMDesign Observer Steve Heller as a SVA student.

Robert Hughes once described the weekly paste-up night at The East Village Other as “a Dada experience.” The year was 1970 and while none of us who were toiling into the wee hours of the morning at one of America’s oldest underground papers (founded in 1965) knew what he was talking about, we nevertheless assumed that to get Time’s then newly appointed art critic to spend some of his first weeknights in America with us, we were doing something weird and perhaps even important. “Dada was the German anti-art political-art movement of the 1920s,” he explained in his cool Australian accent. “And this is the closest thing I’ve come to seeing it recreated today. I’m really grateful for the chance to be here.”

Yet he needn’t have been so grateful. He was as welcome as any other artist, writer, musician, hanger-on and at that moment, detective Frank Serpico, the most famous whistle-blowing cop in America, was stationed at the local Ninth Precinct and would came around periodically in his various undercover costumes to schmooze with the EVO staffers. Paste-up night was open to anybody who drifted up to the dark loft above Bill Graham’s Fillmore East, a former Loews Theater turned rock palace on Second Avenue and Sixth Street, just next door to Ratner’s famous dairy restaurant, in a neighborhood that in the Thirties was the heart of New York’s Yiddish Theater. At that time it was the East Coast hippie capital.

Beginning at seven or eight o’clock at night and lasting until dawn, the regular and transient layout staff took the jumble of counterculture journalism and anti-establishment diatribe that was the paper’s editorial meat and threw it helter skelter onto layouts that were pretty anarchic. Anyone could join in whether they had graphic design experience or not, yet many of the gadfly layout artists were too stoned to complete their pages which were finished on the long subway ride to the printer deep inside Brooklyn. Read more…