April 7, 2016

A Kinder, Gentler Time

Submitted for your approval or at least your analysis: this video from a 1971 nothingburger of what was then known as an "underground film." It opens in a garbage pit somewhere in the early 1970s scumbucket known as "the Lower East Side." The main "action" Takes place on what seems to be "The Avenue of the Americans" [Known by real New Yorkers as "6th Avenue."] It's an episode, albeit a psychotic one, called "Kill for Peace" taken from Wilhelm Reich, The Mysteries of the Organism.

At the time the whack job known as Wilhelm Reich was thought to be a big deal by the more demented intellectuals of the academic/beat/hippie fringe. Don't ask why because nobody cares to remember, but it had something to do with getting laid often and with great screaming intensity.

The "star" of this demented scene was one Tuli Kupferberg, hack beat poet, and founder of a demented group called "The Fugs." Now mercifully forgotten, The Fugs grabbed their 15 minutes with such non-charting songs as "Slum Goddess from the Lower East Side," "Coca-Cola Douche," and "Nothing," of which nothing need be said.

The interest here is not in the film itself but in the vision of a drooling idiot in a helmet, rags, and a "not-so-obviously-toy rifle" chimping about the streets of Manhattan with nobody seeming to give the slightest damn.

Could the same scene be replayed today with such studied non-reaction by the New Yorkers standing around watching this idiot chanting "Kill for Peace?" Somehow I think he'd be taking on about a pound and a half of high-velocity lead in 9mm increments in the first 30 seconds.

But I could be wrong.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at April 7, 2016 6:29 PM
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For an even better look at the pretentiousness of "The Fugs" (isn't that daring, they almost said "fuck',) check out the great Firing Line episode with Ed Sanders pretending to be an intellectual and getting pranked by a drunk Jack Kerouac while Buckley scrambles to get the conversation back on his lofty plane. Giggles abound:


Posted by: Rob De Witt at April 7, 2016 9:13 PM

They have a website...and apparently reunited in 2012 in Cleveland.



Posted by: tim at April 8, 2016 6:11 AM

Meh. Proto punk-rock provocateurs, like Iggy and the Stooges, or the MC5.

Posted by: Skorpion at April 8, 2016 7:45 AM

A reminder of just how bleak it was. As late as ten years ago there was a character of this ilk that rode around the village on a large tricycle wearing a frock and striped leggings. They have amazing resiliency, always managing to somehow survive to "inspire" another generation.

Posted by: Will at April 8, 2016 8:12 AM

I thought "Nothing" had a gleam of something.

Posted by: pbird at April 8, 2016 8:39 AM

I think you are wrong about Wilhelm Reich.

Posted by: Punditarian at April 8, 2016 9:36 AM

I could be. No doubt about that.

Posted by: Van der Leun at April 8, 2016 9:46 AM

James De Meo PhD has done some interesting work validating some of Reich's work. He has also written a book that - based on empirical anthropological evidence - locates the origin of the cultural themes that undergird the phenomenon of Islamism in the pre-historic desertification of Northern Africa and Central Asia - the book is called "Saharasia."

Posted by: Punditarian at April 8, 2016 2:59 PM

Wide Wide River is a great Fugs song.

Posted by: harold t montgomery at April 8, 2016 5:41 PM

It is only a dream that such a pretentious addled twerp did not get lit up by a Charles Bronson stand-in while filmed by his equally full of themselves brethren.

It would have been useful as a salve; Lord knows it would have been useless as a lesson.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at April 8, 2016 6:28 PM