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Coca Crystal, a Wild Child Turned ‘Unconventional’ Mother

Coca Crystal from her Facebook pageRalph Ginsburg Coca Crystal

The first thing on Jackie Diamond’s to-do list: “2008 – Publish book.”

“You see I’m behind schedule,” the 64-year-old said of the unfinished work, her chest purring with laughter. “I got busy with cancer.”

Ms. Diamond is better known to students of the underground as Coca Crystal – a secretary, writer, and “Slum Goddess” for The East Village Other who went on to host a cult cable-access television show for nearly two decades.

In 2006, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Since then, she’s had three operations to remove over a third of her lungs, undergone chemotherapy, and become a patient at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. The last time her cancer returned, her doctor told her it had spread to a part of her lung that was inoperable.

Her to-do list continues: “2010 – Movie based on my life released. Drew Barrymore stars as Coca Crystal.”

“And then the dignitaries and the party,” Ms. Crystal imagined. “And then I’ll live happily ever after. Finally.”

But the real reason she wants to publish her book isn’t the dream of a movie deal – it’s Gus. Read more…

Alan Abramson’s Fan-O-Gram to the East Village Other


Because something is happening here
And you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?
– “Ballad of a Thin Man” by Bob Dylan (from “Highway 61 Revisited,” 1965)

Alan Abramson - 1972 copy Alan Abramson, 1972.

The times were overwhelming. America was violently awakened from the slumber of the 1950s on Nov. 22, 1963 and quickly found itself inhabiting an unrecognizable, incomprehensible, rapidly evolving reality. The Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the Free Love Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Gender Equality Movement, the Consciousness Raising Movement, the Save Our Planet Movement, the Eastern Mysticism Movement, and sex, drugs and rock and roll all conspired to create a giddy, euphoric Renaissance. If you were a nice young person raised in Eisenhower-era suburbia, the questions that consumed you were: “What the hell is going on? What does this all mean? Where do I fit in?” And most importantly: “How do I get invited to the party?”

Enter, The East Village Other. For me it was the Rosetta Stone that enabled me to decode the meaning of the ‘60s.  Attending Oberlin College from 1964 to 1968, I experienced an environment that was receptive to the Strange Days that were sweeping the nation. I had a subscription to the Village Voice, which retained an aura of cool, post-Beat sensibility.

All of the sudden, however, it was left way, far behind: things were happening much too quickly for it to process. The ‘60s were not about quiet, low key cool. The ‘60s were flaming hot. There was a void in the media. Nature abhors a vacuum and something Other was desperately needed (I always felt that the name was a play on words, dissing its neighbor from the West Village). Like Athena springing fully clad in armor from the aching head of Zeus, The East Village Other burst upon the scene. The Other was not your parents’ newspaper. Read more…

Joe Kane: I Got My Gig Through the East Village Other

JoeKane by Nancy NaglinNancy Naglin Joe Kane

A veteran of The New York Ace, High Times, The New York Daily News and many other publications, Joe Kane describes how he got his start at EVO.

When I first migrated to Manhattan from Queens in 1970, it was with dreams of becoming a working scribe, preferably writing Beat fiction (unfortunately, one of the few things I was born too late for) and/or covering film in some capacity. Instead, I landed a boring temp job typing at a downtown insurance firm. During this time, somewhat happier circumstances led me to Screw, where the magazine’s then-art directors, Larry Brill and Les Waldstein, were going halves with publisher Al Goldstein on a new spin-off tab titled Screw X, a satirical variation on Screw (the height of redundancy, no?)

I auditioned for a writing/editing gig, with no guarantee Larry and Les would even get back to me. But a couple of days later, the phone rang in my East Sixth Street pad with promising news from the pair: Seems my work had been extolled by another of their writers, Dean Latimer, who told them it was “almost as good” (accent on almost) as his own stuff and that they should hire me straightaway.

For me, this was a frankly stunning turn of events. It so happened that Dean, whom I had never met, was already something of a personal hero; his “Decomposition” column and other writings were my favorite sections of The East Village Other. I considered Dean one of the most vivid and versatile writers I’d ever read anywhere, one equally adept at reportage, “think pieces,” memoir, criticism and totally devastating satire. That he had encouraging words for my fledgling efforts cheered me no end, and I resolved to thank my benefactor for his unsolicited largesse. Read more…

Rex Weiner: There Is Always The Other

Rex Weiner, circa 1971, photo by Deanne StillmanDeanne Stillman Rex Weiner, circa 1971.

Rex Weiner co-founded The East Village Other’s successor, the pioneering New York Ace (1972–73) and according to his FBI file, was a founding staff member of High Times. He recalls getting his start at EVO.

My first week aboard The East Village Other, its venerable editor-in chief Jaakov Kohn squinted at the name I’d signed to an article, clutched his blue pencil spasmodically, and curled his whiskered lips in disdain. In an Eastern European accent nearly as impenetrable as the cloud of unfiltered Lucky Strike smoke curling from the butt in his nicotine-stained fingers, he declared, “You look more like a Rex to me!”

The newly minted moniker echoed amongst my new colleagues in the vast, shadowy loft. At EVO you had the name you were born with and the name that EVO gave you: Jackie Diamond was Coca Crystal, Alan Shenker was Yossarian, Jackie Friedrich was Roxy Bijou, Jaakov was “The Arab,” Charlie Frick was Zod, and so on. And so with my next byline I was reborn in 1970, a new decade with a new name, and on my way as a writer, of sorts.

I’d walked out of the clanking elevator into the EVO office that fall, a 20-year-old N.Y.U. dropout from upstate and a Lower East Side inhabitant since I was 17. Two of my closest friends from high school were lost, one to Vietnam and the other to heroin, allowing me to nurse a tragic heart tinged with righteous political outrage. With half a dozen porn novels credited to my name — or pseudonym — for a Mafia publisher, and a handful of poems I’d recited at St. Marks in the Bowery, I thought of myself as an established writer. I appointed myself EVO theater critic, filling a staff vacancy, and felt right at home. Read more…

Abe Peck on Why EVO Mattered


The moment is almost upon us: on Tuesday, Feb. 28, the panel discussion and party marking the opening of “Blowing Minds: The East Village Other, the Rise of Underground Comix and the Alternative Press, 1965-72,” will take place at 20 Cooper Square. Before you join us for that, enjoy this penultimate weekend edition celebrating EVO. We start with Abe Peck, author of “Uncovering the Sixties: The Life and Times of the Underground Press,” telling us why the alternative paper was different from others. In short: because it colored outside the lines.

AbeAbbieREV2 copyCREDIT Abe Peck and Abbie Hoffman.

Starting in the mid-1960s, in the zone between 14th Street and Houston, First Avenue and the Alphabet blocks, a wave of longhairs began joining Ukrainians, Puerto Ricans, and pockets of poets, writers and artists. Ingestive preferences turned the grey streets Technicolor. So what if one of my roomie’s father would tell us, “I moved out of a better apartment in this neighborhood in 1924.” We were self-proclaimed life artists, merrily donating our belongings to local intruders into our happy hovels. We were home.

The East Village was where I experienced the end of grad school and the Army Reserves and the start of a community I could call my own. Where I became closer to Sergeant Pepper than to my master sergeant. Where EVO – The East Village Other – mattered.

The Village Voice was literate, and had the apartment ads. But from 1964 to 1973, hundreds of underground newspapers sprang up in every city and college town, and within high schools, the military and even prisons. They varied, but all provided a bent-mirror image of what the dailies and TV news and Time offered: herbs were fine, sex was cool, the Vietnam War sucked, racism was for losers.

Like The San Francisco Oracle (though not as third-eye-y) or my eventual underground-press homeland, the colorful Chicago Seed, EVO began, in late 1965, to chronicle an urban tribe. “We hope to become the mirror of opinion of the new citizenry of the East Village,” EVO declared in its first issue. Read more…

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…

Michael Simmons: EVO, Tuli and the Kiss Corps

Tuli Kupferberg by Bob CQ Simmons   copyBob Simmons Tuli Kupferberg

The funniest part of reminiscing about the uber-subversive East Village Other for The New York Times is that the latter set me on the road to rebellion before the former was even founded in 1965. I’m told I was reading by age four and within a few years the first section I grabbed when the Sunday Times arrived every weekend was the Book Review. The Grove Press ads kidnapped my imagination: Who was this Alain Robbe-Grillet guy and how do you pronounce his name?  Why was William Burroughs considered so dangerous and did his characters have meals while wearing no clothes? And speaking of clothes, how come the girls on Grove’s covers wore so little?

Obviously my nascent libido was ready for plucking, but my fascination was not simply sexual. I wanted to know why in the land of the First Amendment some had wanted to ban these books.

I bought my first issue of the Village Voice in February 1966; it contained an obituary of the abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann. Already a Dylan fan, I scanned the ads for folk clubs and was absolutely smitten by bohemia. The first girl who won my heart in elementary school was Jessica Hentoff (I don’t recall my feelings being reciprocated) and her father Nat wrote for the Voice. Soon I picked up the Voice’s competitor, The East Village Other.

No friends’ parents wrote for EVO. Scruffier, funnier and dirtier than the Voice, EVO was not simply about bohemia, it was an anarchist’s bomb in newsprint hurled at the bourgeoisie. Even at my tender age, I knew that I didn’t like the world that grown-ups had created. The troublemakers at The Other were expressing themselves in ways I could only daydream about at that point. Read more…

Bob Simmons on Timothy Leary and the Raid on Millbrook

Screen shot 2012-02-18 at 11.36.42 AM

The only time I really ever wrote anything for EVO was when Walter Bowart, high on something, called me up and said, “Bob, you are the only straight-looking guy we have around the office. We have to do something for Leary. He just got busted up in Millbrook.” Hmm. So Walter and I cooked up this scheme. I would call up the sheriff of Dutchess County, one Lawrence Quinlan, and I would put on my regular work suit and drive up to Poughkeepsie to interview him.

Of course we knew that the sheriff wasn’t interested in talking to anyone from a hippie rag like EVO. So what did I do?  I called up the sheriff and told him my name was Bob Simmons, a stringer for Look magazine, and that my editor asked me if there was a chance I could come and do a short interview for the magazine about the arrest of Dr. Leary. You would think God had called for an audition. “Certainly,” came the reply. “Sheriff Quinlan would be happy to talk with you.”

So, there on a weekend in the spring of 1966, Walter Bowart, Timothy Leary, and Bob Simmons crammed into my Karmann Ghia VW and buzzed up to Poughkeepsie to the headquarters of the Castalia FoundationRead more…

Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman: EVO and Abbie Hoffman’s Occupy Wall Street


In Larry “Ratso” Sloman’s 1998 book, “Steal This Dream: Abbie Hoffman and the Counter-Culture Revolution in America,” he recounts what happened the day Abbie Hoffman dragged him and Peter Leggieri out of the East Village Other office to witness the Yippie icon’s attack on Wall Street. Mr. Sloman was a lowly EVO intern at the time who credits the paper with giving him his start as a writer. The excerpt is reprinted here with the author’s permission.

Read more…

Yossarian on One-Legged Terry, Bob Dylan and a Drawing for the Ace

Weberman-Yossarian-Vincent Titus A.J. Weberman, Yossarian, Vincent Titus

How One-Legged Terry became a member of A.J. Weberman’s circle fades into the mists of memory. Surely, he fit the mold of a Weberman associate with his good humor and dominant, eccentric personality. I met Terry along with a number of people A.J. had acquired from a series of “Dylanology” lectures he had given at Manhattan’s New School for Social Research. This was during a five-month period in 1970 in which I had crossed the country with friends in a (then almost requisite) Volkswagon bus, to spend time with the underground comix community, which by then had assembled in San Francisco.

Terry went by the full moniker of Terry Noble in the United States and Terry Ephraite in Israel, where he had gone to work on a kibbutz after finishing his education. While there, he had been assigned to work atop a hopper that loaded agricultural produce into a machine for processing. His job was to assist in moving the produce from a conveyer that lifted the material to the hopper. After a few days on the job, the platform on which he was standing collapsed, dumping him into the machinery and mangling his left leg. What was left had to be amputated just above the knee. As he remembered his thoughts at the time, they were about the loss of his shoe, one of a pair he had recently bought.

When he sought compensation for his loss, it was revealed that the platform had also collapsed in the recent past, costing another Jewish-American volunteer a leg. Terry surmised that it made more sense to assign an expendable American to the dangerous positions than to fix the underlying fault. Because of the negligence involved, Terry had won a settlement of about $50,000 for his loss. Read more…

Dan Rattiner on EVO, the Mafia, and the Takeover That Wasn’t

Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 2.35.17 AMLeft to right: Steven Kohn, (on floor:) Heather, R. Crumb, Ray Schultz, (sitting behind:) Hetty Maclise, John Heys, Coca Crystal, Allen Katzman, David Walley, Little Arthur, (standing:) Joel Fabrikant, Jaakov Kohn

The end of my real involvement with The East Village Other came as something I perceived as a betrayal. I have come to think I really didn’t understand it at the time and perhaps what happened wasn’t directed at me personally. But sometimes I wonder.

I mentioned in my earlier piece that EVO was formed as a stock company, with Walter Bowart, Allen Katzman and I each owning three shares.

“We need to raise more money,” Walter said to me in the spring of 1966. “We’ve run out.  I’ve called a meeting and there will be new people coming. We need to get more people buying stock.”

“It won’t dilute my one third, will it?” I asked.

“It doesn’t have to,” he said, “if you buy some more, too.” And this was technically true.

The meeting took place in our office on Avenue A on a Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. John Wilcock was there, a prized defector to The Other from the Village Voice, our designated competitor. I loved that idea. There were four new people in the room, none of whom was familiar to me, except for John.

“Okay, we’re here to buy stock,” Walter said. “Who’d like to go first?”   Read more…

Kim Deitch’s Ode to Joel Fabrikant

DEFIINITELY USE Deitch Black and Blue EVO Mar 3 1969 EVO BEST BEST copy Mar. 3, 1969 cover by Kim Deitch

He was a roughneck.  He certainly wasn’t politically correct and his blunt management style definitely took getting used to. In fact I really didn’t know what to make of him at first. But during the time I worked at The East Village Other, I received any number of sanctimonious promises from the people I worked with that didn’t seem to amount to much. Joel Fabrikant was no sanctimonious hippie or any other kind of hippie, but he always kept his word.

I was actually drawing comics for EVO, as it was called by most of us, before Joel got there.  The first time I showed up at the storefront office on Avenue A was at the start of 1967. Allen Katzman, EVO’s nominal editor, looked at the art samples I brought. He told me they were interesting, but that EVO was looking for work that was more, “psychedelic.” Psychedelic was a buzzword of the moment.  Put simply it meant, “trippy,” or drug-influenced.

I didn’t have to go far to pipe directly into that. Before I even left the office, Allen Katzman introduced me to Bill Beckman, the art editor. I knew who Bill Beckman was. In fact he was one of my initial inspirations for showing up at EVO.

Back in Westchester, where I had been employed as a child care worker, perhaps nine months prior to this, I showed a co-worker some of the artwork I’d been doing in my spare time. A curious thing about this artwork was that at a certain point, it had started morphing into primitive comic strips. Read more…

Bob Simmons on Bill Beckman and EVO’s Own Touch of Evil

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 8.17.25 PM Detail from an illustration by Bill Beckman.

I came to EVO in late 1965. I think the paper was about three issues old. Walter Bowart had quit his job as a bartender at the Dom on St. Marks Place (Ed Sanders says it was Stanley’s, maybe it was both) and had raised some money to publish what he was soon to become fond of calling “a hippie National Inquirer.” (“Hippies don’t like to read. They like pictures and big headlines.”) I had just come to New York City from Texas. At the time I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make it uptown or downtown. All that was certain was that I needed to get some kind of employment.

I was living in the basement of Bill and Debbie Beckman’s apartment on East Ninth Street between Avenues C and D. At the time, this was decidedly a sketchy neighborhood, populated by young Puerto Rican street entrepreneurs who would have duels with ripped-off car antennae, whipping each other viciously over turf or girlfriends or whatever. The old mittel Europeans, Ukrainians, and refugees who lived in the ratty tenements would scurry to get out of their way as they crossed Houston to get a knish. It would have been maybe December of 1965 when I arrived. It was shaping up as a very cold winter, with an incredible blizzard that happened just a few weeks after my arrival. Being a naive Texan, I had innocently driven my car and tried to keep it on the streets. I lost it for almost 10 days under the snow. It was all very new to me. Snow. Hippies. The East Village Other. Read more…

Where Underground Comix Lurched Into Life


The Local East Village continues its celebration of the pioneering alternative newspaper of the late 1960s and early 70s, The East Village Other. This weekend, further to last week’s piece by artist Trina Robbins, we’re keeping our attention on the paper’s trailblazing illustrations, starting with an essay from Patrick Rosenkranz, the author of “Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975.”

Crumb Gothic Blimp Works first issue Cover of the first Gothic Blimp Works issue, by Robert Crumb

I never worked for The East Village Other but I was a captivated reader from the first time I picked up an issue in 1966. As an 18-year-old naïve Catholic scholarship student at Columbia University, I was ripe for the revolution. My roommate introduced me to smoking dope that winter and my enhanced appetite often drew me to the student cafeteria, where I couldn’t help but be attracted to the radical contingent from Students for a Democratic Society sitting around their regular table. They looked to my eyes like bomb-throwing anarchists who were having wild sex every night. They often left behind copies of The East Village Other, which I picked up. It was love at first sight.

I’d never seen a publication like this before. It was full of wild accusations and bawdy language and doctored photographs. It had President Johnson’s head in a toilet bowl. It had naked Slum Goddesses, truly bizarre personal ads, and a whole different slant on the anti-war movement than my hometown paper upstate. But best of all, it had the most outrageous comic strips. The continuing saga of Captain High; the psychedelic adventures of Sunshine Girl and Zoroaster the Mad Mouse; Trashman offing the pigs and scoring babes left and right. While I enjoyed many aspects of EVO, I liked the comics the most. Read more…

Coca Crystal: Handmaiden, Slum Goddess, Reporter

Coca Crystal -Magic Garden - If I Cant Dance You Can Keep Your Revolution 7.20.03 PM

Coca Crystal (born Jackie Diamond) was EVO’s self-described “gatekeeper,” receptionist, sometime reporter and sometime model until the bitter end, when, as staff and resources dwindled, she became its defacto publisher (she financed the final two issues out of her own purse). Here, she describes how she got her start.

The first time I set foot in the EVO office, it was in the fall of 1969 and I had come to visit with a college friend, Barbara, who was EVO’s secretary.

The office was located on the third floor of the Fillmore East building on Second Avenue and Sixth Street. The place was a wreck. It was freezing, the garbage cans were overflowing, cigarette butts were everywhere, and the walls were covered in fabulous cartoons by the best in underground comix: R. Crumb, Kim Deitch, Spain Rodriguez, Yossarian, Shelton, Art Spiegelman, just to name a few. It was chaos, but a kind of cool chaos.

The office was in a frenzy to get copy ready for the typesetter, and I was asked if I could type. I said I could and was given the job of typing up the classifieds. I had never seen such weird ads. (“Dominant Iguana seeks submissive zebra,” sex ads, odd employment opportunities, legal advice for pot busts). I had to type while sitting on Allen Katzman’s lap (his idea), wearing my winter coat and gloves. When I had completed the classifieds I was told the other secretary, Marcia, was leaving and I could have her job if I wanted it. The pay was $35 a week. I took the job. Read more…

Suze Rotolo and Edie Sedgwick, Slum Goddesses


In its early issues, The East Village Other began featuring a “Slum Goddess,” a title that was taken from a Fugs song:

When I see her coming down the street,
I’m as happy as I can be,
My beautiful Slum Goddess from Avenue D.

Among the first to be featured was Suze Rotolo, the artist who had been Bob Dylan’s girlfriend. In her memoir, “Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties,” Ms. Rotolo, who died a year ago, of cancer at age 67, tells of the time Walter Bredel photographed her for the feature.

A few weeks later a reporter from the East Village Other, a new local biweekly claiming to be hipper than the Village Voice, asked me to be part of a feature the paper was starting up called “Slum Goddess,” inspired by a song by the Fugs, “Slum Goddess of the Lower East Side.” The feature would be the counterculture’s answer to the Miss America aesthetic of overly made-up and girdled women with beehive hairdos. I thought it was a fine idea and said yes. I was to be the Slum Goddess for December 1965. Read more…

Charlie Frick on Tripping The Light-Box Fantastic

Screen shot 2012-01-28 at 11.01.18 PM EVO poster showing Mr. Frick.

Charlie Frick was a rock n’ roll writer and photographer for The East Village Other. He was a network television cameraman and in more recent years has become an independent media consultant. An original light box is among the artifacts he rescued from EVO’s last office in the Law Commune at 640 Broadway. Writing in 1979 for an Alternative Media Syndicate publication (hence at least one instance of “alternative” language), he described the “controlled artistic anarchy” of psychedelic design.

Tripping the Lightbox Fantastic

For more on “Blowing Minds: The East Village Other, the Rise of Underground Comix and the Alternative Press, 1965-72,” read about the exhibition here, and read more from EVO’s editors, writers, artists, and associates here.

Steve Kraus: How Green Was My Underground

Screen shot 2012-01-28 at 8.27.46 AM Steve Kraus

As documented in a DNA Info video, Steve Kraus has been publishing the New York Good News since the 1960s. Now 82, he has lived just above Café Mogador on St. Marks Place for the past 37 years. He also volunteers for the Jewish Foundation of the Righteous. The following piece appeared in a 1979 booklet produced by the Alternative Press Syndicate, titled “Alternative Media: How the Muckrakers Saved America,” published by Bell and Howell. It is reprinted here with the author’s permission.

Steve Kraus – How Green Was My Underground

For more on “Blowing Minds: The East Village Other, the Rise of Underground Comix and the Alternative Press, 1965-72,” read about the exhibition here, and read more from EVO’s editors, writers, artists, and associates here.

Ishmael Reed on the Miltonian Origin of The Other


Last weekend, in one of our posts celebrating The East Village Other, Ed Sanders wrote that poet Ted Berrigan may have named the alternative newspaper after the Rimbaud line “I is an Other.” Mr. Sanders acknowledged, “Another account has Ishmael Reed coining the name.” In the comments, EVO editor Peter Leggieri wrote that Allen Katzman (who founded the paper along with Dan Rattiner and Walter Bowart) “always gave the impression that he had suggested the name ‘Other.'” After citing the reasons, Mr. Leggieri wrote, “However, if the question of origin came to a vote, I’d probably pull the lever for Ishmael Reed.” Here, now, is Mr. Reed himself, on his role in shaping The East Village Other.

ishmaelIsamu Kawai Ishmael Reed, 1967

My receiving a job as the editor of a newspaper in Newark, N.J., led to the origin of The East Village Other. I worked a number of temporary jobs from the time I arrived in New York in the fall of 1962 until I left for California in the summer of 1967. One of those jobs was that of  a pollster for The Daily News. So when I went to the Department of Labor to get a temporary job, after the poll was completed, I was informed of an opening for a reporter for a new newspaper in Newark.

I had written for a newspaper in Buffalo called The Empire Star, edited by the great A.J. Smitherman, who was the target of mob violence during one of the worst riots in American history, the Tulsa riots of 1921, which left 300 blacks dead.

Smitherman believed in armed self-defense against lynching. After an interview with the investors, it was decided that I would be the editor of a newspaper that I named Advance. Although I had watched the production of a newspaper using the old linotype method while working for the newspaper in Buffalo, I hadn’t a clue about offset printing.

Walter Bowart was a bartender at Stanley’s, which was our hangout. It was owned by Stanley Tolkin who was a patron of the arts and our benefactor. Read more…

Ed Sanders on EVO and ‘The New Vision’

Screen shot 2012-01-20 at 12.49.16 PM Drawing by Bill Beckman, Nov. 1966.

I first knew Walter Bowart around 1963 or ’64 when he was a bartender at Stanley’s Bar, located at 12th Street and Avenue B. Bowart was an artist who did some design work in early 1965 for LeMar, the Committee to Legalize Marijuana, which operated out of my Peace Eye Bookstore located in a former Kosher meat store on East 10th Street between Avenues B and C.

Allen Katzman I had known since 1961 when he helped run open readings at various east-side coffee houses, such as Les Deux Magots on East Seventh, and later the Cafe Le Metro on Second Avenue. Katzman was known at the time mainly as a poet.  (During his time at EVO, Katzman spelled his first name Allan.)

During the summer of 1965, Bowart, Katzman and others, including the artist Bill Beckman, Ishmael Reed, Jaakov Kohn, and Sherry Needham, decided to found a newspaper. Poet Ted Berrigan, as I recall, came up with the name, The East Village Other, with “Other” coming, of course, from Rimbaud’s famous line of 1871, “Je est un autre,” I is an Other. Another account has Ishmael Reed coining the name. (The participants in the Dada movement argued for 50 years over who first thought of the name “Dada.”) Read more…