Visiting New York with my father in 1967 or 1968, I somehow persuaded him to take me to see the Fugs in one of their now legendary nightly performances at Greenwich Village’s Players Theater. It was a memorable show with something close to the founding group of the Fugs including Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg and two or three others. Thankfully, my dad fell asleep before the Fugs hit their scatological stride.
Sanders is an interesting guy. He majored in classics at NYU and has a literary bent with a twist. He co-founded the Fugs in the name of the creative alternative Norman Mailer had seized on to portray the speech of soldiers in The Naked and the Dead. Among other things, Sanders went on to write The Family, his scarifying account of the Manson murders that has made it into a third edition, I think.
Looking around online recently for some information about Sanders, I happened onto the 1968 episode of William F. Buckley’s Firing Line featuring a drunken Jack Kerouac, a sober Ed Sanders, and Professor Lewis Yablonsky, sociologist and author of The Hippie Trip, an academic exploration of the subject. Kerouac required no introduction, though he did need some coffee and a cold shower. Buckley accurately introduced Sanders as a musician, a poet and a polemicist, adding in classic deadpan style: “He is one of the Fugs, a widely patronized combo.” Priceless.
Buckley begins with Sanders, posing a rich Buckleyesque question as a follow-up to his opening inquiry: “Do I understand from this that are we supposed to make the inference that the hippies don’t have a highly developed political [agenda]?”
I’m filing this under Laughter is the Best Medicine.