Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuli Kupferberg Died


Tuli, front and center

Roland dragged me to the Nixon Library one time; to him it's like going to see a Pyramid, a Great Wall or a sequoia tree. He's uh... about half my age. And for me it was a tad more emotional. He was mortified and fled unceremoniously when, after waiting patiently on line with the other fine burghers, I very ceremoniously spat on Nixon's grave. (Digby and John reminded me-- and our guests-- the other day that I'm like that. They're still mortified that I screamed out some epithet about Blue Dogs being Wall Street whores at the screen when Michael Moore interviewed Baron Hill, probably because it was the world premiere and we were sitting a few rows behind Moore and Arianna.) Anyway, I have nothing bad to say about George Steinbrenner. I don't follow sports and I have no idea what position he played or how many goals he scored. I just remember he had something to do with the Yankees-- the owner I think-- and that people used to refer to him as the Evil Empire for driving up player salaries into the stratosphere. Oh, yeah-- and that he was indicted on 14 criminal counts in 1974, at the height of the Vietnam War and Nixonian dirty tricks, for illegally funneling a great deal of cash into Richard Nixon's campaign coffers. (Within a day or two of Reagan becoming president, he pardoned him.) Tuesday Steinbrenner died in Tampa of a heart attack, about a week shy of his 80th birthday. Sorry to hear it; rest in peace. Ken did the official-- and appropriate-- DWT obituary last night. Aside from Ken, Matt Taibbi had the best commentary of any I've heard on the passing of Steinbrenner. Hit that link and read his Slobituary, comparing Steinbrenner's passing to Stalin's and Reagan's. Hint: it ends in "Whatever happened to Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead?"

What saddened me was not the wall-to-wall coverage by the mass media. It could have been Paris Hilton, Mel Gibson, Michael Jackson, Charlie Manson or Kim Jong-il. But in my little corner of the universe-- among political lefty tweeters-- there was an awful lot about Steinbrenner, a trending topic, and not a word about Tuli Kupferberg.

Tuli died too, Monday night, actually. He wasn't like a celebrity in our celebrity-mad culture. But he did do a lot for our culture. An anti-war poet, a rock musician, a missing link between beatniks and hippies, Tuli and the band he co-founded with Ed Sanders, The Fugs, was the first band I remember writing and performing powerful songs critiquing the Vietnam War and the inevitable corruption of a war-based ruling elite. I saw his band 100 times; I hired them to play the freshman class dance at my college; I got arrested, went to jail, and shared a cell with them in the first big '60s anti-war demonstration. Maybe if more people had listened to him and learned from him instead of wasting their time of tabloid creations of the mass media, we wouldn't be in the catastrophic Afghan War now. Not maybe-- for sure.

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At 3:12 PM, Blogger cybermome said...


I got to see them in NYC in the 60's. There was no one like them....


At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Abbie Hoffman had been a band.

- L.P.

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Doug Lynner said...

Memorial Tribute to Tuli Kupferberg on Doug Lynner's World of Noise Internet radio show. Go to for more information.


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