Ken Answers Four Questions on the Writing Process Blog Tour

So, here I am writing about myself. That’s a switch, my sarcastic friends remark.

But this time I have an excuse. I was asked to join a social networking exercise and write about myself as a writer by my good friend and book buddy Sue Katz, who was asked to write about herself as a writer by her good friend Elizabeth Woodcraft, who was asked by someone else, and on and on backwards to, I think, Eve and the snake, who were asked by Adam. My notes don’t indicate who asked Adam so maybe he started this thread. I know he started the tradition of writing in the nude, a tradition I must break today or else management at the Panera where I am currently writing will stop giving me free coffee, citing insurance risks.

But I won’t break this chain of writers writing about writing, which is now known as the Writing Process Blog Tour, and it will continue after me because, as per instructions, I have invited two friends, who I will introduce after I answer the four questions that all participants in this tour are expected (and delighted) to answer.

My Fellow Participants

But first I would like to introduce Sue and the other writer who Sue brought into this exercise, Leslie Brunetta, both of whom are my fellow National Writers Union members.

Sue Katz is one of my favorite people in the world; I’m honored that she has called me Cuz ever since I told her that there were Katzes in my family tree on my mother’s father’s mother’s side. Research on her first book, Thanks But No Thanks: The Voter’s Guide to Sarah Palin, was begun within hours after John McCain made his dramatic concession to the craziest elements of his increasingly delusional party and chose a polar bear named Sarah to sit in the on-deck circle in case he died in office. A horrified America took notice and voted for the other guy. Had they done otherwise and voted her to the on-deck circle, Sue would be a household name today because her book would have become a bestseller. Her recently released Lillian’s Last Affair gives hope to baby boomers as they reach their final one-digit decades that sex doesn’t have to stop in old age, and neither do the eccentricities.

Leslie Brunetta is co-author with Catherine L. Craig of Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating (Yale University Press), published in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan. Leslie’s articles and essays have appeared in Technology Review, the Sewanee Review, various newspapers and alumni magazines, and on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She has recently written about her experience with breast cancer and about the role the theory of evolution has played in the treatment of cancer.

The Four Questions

(I know. It sounds so Jewish. Who knew there were Jewish writers?):

What am I working on?

I’m presently in the process of turning some of my early print books, Early Wachsberger, into ebooks and second edition print books. The first one, which is already online, is Your Partner Has Breast Cancer: 21 Ways to Keep Sane as a Support Person on Your Journey from Victim to Survivor, a survival guide that, karmically, was inspired by my wife’s breast cancer adventure, which we became aware of exactly, to the day, fourteen years ago today. (I’m writing this on May 9, 2014.)

My upcoming ebook is an amazing true World War II story about Bernard Mednicki, a Belgian Jew who fled Belgium with his family when the Nazis invaded, moved to southern France, posed as a Christian, and, through a series of events, found himself in the Maquis, the French Resistance. The original title was Never Be Afraid: A Jew in the Maquis. However, after the book, which is now out of print, came out I was horrified to learn that too many folks had no idea what the Maquis was so the subtitle didn’t grab them the way it grabbed me. So, this new edition, which will appear in e- and in print, is subtitled A Belgian Jew in the French Resistance—not as sexy but hopefully understandable and will give me a leg up on attracting Belgium’s English-reading audience. Expect it out by summer or earlier.

My next Early Wachsberger to go e- will be Beercans on the Side of the Road: The Story of Henry the Hitchhiker. Beercans (yes, I know, technically “beer cans” is two words but the spelling came to me in a vision so karma demanded that I go with it) was my first book and my only novel to date. It’s been called a cult classic, the story of Henry Freedman’s quest to learn what it means to be a writer while he experiences life on the road (including in jail in Houston for getting caught with two joints while hitchhiking). It’s not strict autobiography but it comes out of my journal that I kept in the seventies while I was hitching to all corners of the country and establishing my reputation as one of the premier experts on intranational hitchhiking in the seventies. It’s a funny story but if you get confused somewhere while reading it, Henry’s probably having a flashback or lost in a headtrip. By the way, it’s still in print so you don’t have to wait for the e- version to get your copy.

Meanwhile, a pun came to me one night as I was fading into sleep: “You’ll never get rich being a member of the loyal opposition, but you’ll earn a dissent living.” I thought it was hilarious so I posted it on Facebook the next day to see if I would get a reaction. Lots of funny responses told me I was on to something. So I posted a variation: “You’ll never get rich living on a mountaintop and working in the valley, but you’ll earn a descent living.” I got more favorable responses. (In the pun world, a groan counts as a favorable response.) For about two weeks, I posted puns about job searching and continued to attract funny responses. Somewhere along the way, I realized I had to stop so I didn’t get typecast, but I continued accumulating puns on my own—I couldn’t help it; they came to me—and realized I had begun a new book, Puns for the Job Searcher. I now have 128 of them, most recently, “I was looking for a good Jewish caterer to work for so I went online and did a Kugel search”; and then “I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be an anesthesiologist or a miner. It was an ether/ore decision.” I’m presently looking for an artist to illustrate the book. If there is a God, this one will go viral and I’ll be able to pay off the Visa.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I type left-handed.

What’s the genre for puns?

Bernard Mednicki, the subject of my biography, Never Be Afraid, was a story teller in the tradition of the great Yiddish writers Bernard Malamud, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Chaim Potok. But, unlike them, he told his stories. It was my great honor to help him get his stories onto paper before he died. The book was based on two rounds of six interview sessions apiece, the first following my question, “Where does your story begin?,” and the second as a series of Q-A’s so he could answer my questions that had come up during the first round. I had no expectations other than that he would be honest and answer my questions in detail.

Toward the end of the eleventh session I asked him a question that, unexpectedly, dug him deeper into his past than he had ever gone since the war ended. What followed was Bernard’s effort, on one hand, to answer my question, and, on the other, to avoid answering it because it was causing him to feel excruciatingly painful memories that up until that moment he had successfully concealed. As I watched him laboring with his thoughts and feelings, I envisioned a cyclone, where he was drawn toward the center, then pulled away, then was drawn in, then pulled away. But each time he was drawn in, it was deeper into the funnel, and each time he pulled back it wasn’t as far, until he was helpless to tell the complete truth with no holding back.

In Chapter 19, “Like Blood out of the Aorta of a Pig,” I’ve tried to retain the feel of his struggling to open his memory and unleash those painful secrets that had haunted him since that time, so that the reader can actually experience his pain along with him, as I did that day. That one chapter’s outline is less chronological than the traditional biographical chapter and more like one might feel getting pulled into the funnel of a cyclone.

Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s there. I’m ADHD and I write about what I’m thinking so I’m generally all over the place with my thoughts and I’m able to turn the ones that hold my attention into books and articles. I also write to make sense of the world around me.

How does my writing process work?

Great. I see a question about the writing process and my mind goes blank. I panic. But that’s okay because panic is step one. From there you either harness the panic or panic because you’re panicking (which produces a second-degree panic). The first option is more artistically productive and you do that by freewriting. All good writing begins with freewriting. Even my junk thoughts on a good day make their way onto paper or the screen while freewriting, if only to get them out of my mind so I can delete them and be left with the thoughts that I will massage and expand into complete thoughts.

At some point in the process, I begin to cut and paste to group similar stray thoughts. Next I put the groups of stray thoughts in order, and then I put the stray thoughts within each group in order. I’m creating order out of chaos from the inside out, and all the while I expand my thoughts, delete the junk thoughts, and tighten up the writing. I keep my energy up by drinking lots of coffee or iced tea; listening to rock and roll oldies; taking slow, deep breaths; and stretching. To satisfy my anal retentive, ADHD tendencies, I read my favorite blogs, wash the dishes (if I’m set up in the kitchen, my home office), play computer word games, and do my email. On a good day, I can put in a solid ten hours of work. It just takes me fourteen hours.

And now, it is my pleasure to introduce to you …

And that’s all that I’ve got to say about me for the moment. Time to pass the baton to my two good writer friends, Catherine Holm and Karen Ford.

Catherine Holm loves to explore the themes of place and transformation. She is also fascinated with the idea that magic is possible even in the most mundane settings. Her short story collections (My Heart is a Mountain and Voice Lessons) explore these themes. Catherine also writes about the power of the human/animal-companion bond in the memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, and her first cat fantasy fiction novel (The Great Purr) will publish in June 2014. Catherine blogs regularly at Catster.com and on her own website blog.

Karen Ford is the author of the soon-to-be-released Thoughts of a Fried Chicken Watermelon Woman (Total Recall Press 2014) and the blog, Caviar & Grits. As a freelance journalist, Karen’s articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Lutheran Woman Today, Screen Magazine, and various newspapers and periodicals. Karen serves as the 3rd Vice President of the National Writers Union UAW 1981, the only trade union for freelance writers in the United States.

Creating the Most Extensive Digital Collection of Underground Papers Ever

In my last blog post I told you that in my next blog post I would introduce what is to date the most extensive project ever to digitize underground, alternative, and literary publications from the fifties through the eighties. This is that post.

I also said I would describe the economic model that is making this project possible at about one-fifth the cost to libraries that other digital publishers would charge, and with open access, not perpetual profits, as a result—an absolutely unique concept in the digitizing field. I’ll do that in my next post. If you are a librarian at any institution of higher learning who wants to enhance your collections of digital resources without busting your budget, this model was created with you in mind. You might even own an archive in your collection that you would like to see digitized. If it can fit into this economic model, we need to talk.

And if you are a writer or antiwar activist from the period who wrote for or published one of these publications, especially one that is not already on board the project, we need to talk as well.

I’m a veteran of the Vietnam era underground press and now a historian. My four-volume Voices from the Underground Series is a collection of insider histories of underground papers from the period as written by key folks on each of the papers. Stories represent the gay, Black, Native American, Puerto Rican, military, psychedelic, rank-and-file worker, prisoners’ rights, campus, community, socialist, Southern consciousness, new age, and other antiwar voices of the period.

And also the feminist and lesbian voices. Carol Anne Douglas/Fran Moira’s and Marilyn Webb’s stories about off our backs, the first major national feminist paper to emerge on the east coast, appear in volume 1; the history of It Aint Me Babe, the San Francisco-based national feminist publication that actually preceded off our backs, is told by members of the collective in volume 3, along with Ginny Berson’s history of The Furies, the legendary paper put out by twelve self-proclaimed revolutionary lesbian feminists who were known collectively as the Furies.

For the past four years, I have been part of a team of researchers and digitizing specialists who are working on a project to digitize underground, alternative, and literary publications from the fifties through the eighties. My role has been to come up with names of papers that I want to include in the collection, figure out who I need to contact for permission to scan them, and then contact those folks and obtain permission.

Our goal is to digitize a million pages in four years. Our motivations are two-fold: to preserve the most important writings of our generation, which are now hidden in dark shelves of special collections libraries—where young scholars seldom roam—and are beginning to yellow and crumble with age; and to make them available to current and future generations of activists, who look first—and too often only—to digital resources for their research information. If the readers don’t come to you, you go to the readers.

My fellow veterans of the period understand. And so I have been getting tremendous response from individuals who I contact as they in turn contact other members of their respective papers to obtain consensus agreement and then get back to me with their okays.

To date, I have on board some 120 papers that represent the same voices whose histories I was successful in recording through the Voices from the Underground Series as well as others that I wasn’t successful in getting, including the Asian-American and Chicano voices. I have brought on board also some 200 military underground papers, 80 literary publications, and even 4 papers published by the FBI to sow dissension in the Movement.

But it all began with the feminist and lesbian papers, the genre that got this project under way. The following are the women’s papers that now are on board:

Aegis; Ain’t I a Woman (Iowa City); Amazon; Amazon Quarterly: A Lesbian Feminist Arts Journal;And Aint I a Woman (Seattle); Aphra; B.A.D. (Big Apple Dyke) News; BattleActs; Big Mama Rag; Black Belt Woman: The Magazine for Women in the Martial Arts and Self Defense; Black Maria; Black Woman’s Voice; Bread & Roses; Common Lives/Lesbian Lives; Conditions; Country Women; CWLU News: Newsletter of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union (and three papers associated with CWLU: Womankind, Blazing Star, and Secret Storm); Dandelion; Dayton Women’s Liberation Newsletter, Distaff; Dyke, A Quarterly; Dykes & Gorgons; Everywoman; The Eye; Female Studies Series; Feminary; Feminist Alliance Against Rape; Feminist Bookstore News/Feminist Bookstore Newsletter; Feminist Voice; Feminist Women’s Health Center Newsletter; The Furies; Heresies: A Feminist Journal on Arts and Politics; Her-self; Houston Breakthrough: Where Women Are News; Hysteria; IKON; It Aint Me Babe; Killer Dyke; KNOW; The Ladder; Lavender Vision; Lavender Woman; Lesbian Connection; The Lesbian Insider/Inside Her/Inciter; Lesbian News; Lesbian Tide; Lilith; Marin Women’s Newsletter/News Journal; The Matriarchist; Matrices; Media Report to Women; Meeting Ground; Motive (lesbian issue); New Directions for Women; New Women’s Times; New York Radical Feminists Newsletter;Newsreport; No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation; Notes from the [First/Second/Third]Year; off our backs; On Our Backs; Quest/a feminist quarterly; Radical Chick; The Second Page, Second Wave: A Magazine for the New Feminism; Sinister Wisdom; Sojourner; SPAZM; The Spokeswoman; Tell-a-Woman; Tooth and Nail; Tribad; Triple Jeopardy; Up From Under, Voices of the Women’s Liberation Movement; WomaNews; Woman’s World; WomanSpirit; Women: A Journal of Liberation; Women and Art; Women in Print Newsletter; Women Organizing; Women’s News…For a Change; Women’s Press; and The Women’s Page. Also to be included is the groundbreaking paper “a kind of memo” (later published in Liberation as “Sex and Caste”), written by Mary King and Casey Hayden.

There are others and I want to bring them on board. That’s why I attended Boston University’s Women’s Liberation Conference. I imagined the opportunity to meet, in person for the first time, women who I had come to know over email because they had already given me permission to include their papers. How right I was. I was honored to meet

  • Dana Dunsmore (No More Fun and Games; Black Belt Woman)
  • Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (No More Fun and Games)
  • Julie Enszer (Sinister Wisdom)
  • Christine Riddiough (Women Organizing)
  • Barbara Love (The Matriarchist)
  • Barbara Winslow (And Aint I a Woman)
  • Laura X (SPAZM, It Aint Me Babe)
  • Alta (It Aint Me Babe)
  • Carol Hanisch (Meeting Ground)
  • Mary King (co-author of “a kind of memo,” the document that has been credited with kicking off the modern feminist movement)

I also spent time with my friends Jo Freeman (Voices of the Women’s Liberation Movement), Sue Katz (Lavender Vision), Judy Gumbo Albert (Barb on Strike; Berkeley Tribe), and Sally Gabb (Great Speckled Bird). Jo and Sue are long-time friends from the National Writers Union. Judy and Sally’s papers were among the community underground papers that I’ll discuss in my next post.

I hoped to bring new papers on board and did. After many previous futile long-distance efforts to bring Boston’s Sojourner on board, I was fortunate to meet Shane Snowdon and Vicky Gabriner and, voila, Sojourner was added to the list, as was Lesbian Insider/Inciter/Inside Her, thanks to my meeting with Mardi Steinau.

A major figure from the seventies was Carol Downer, who pioneered women’s self-help in Los Angeles through her clinic and many activities that my paper from Lansing, Michigan, Joint Issue, regularly reported on. I was honored to meet her and delighted when she gave me a verbal commitment to include the Feminist Women’s Health Center Newsletter. Another verbal commitment came from Susan Chernilo, from Eugene, Oregon’s Women’s Press.

I gave one of my promotional flyers to a woman who was sitting next to me at one session. She glanced at the text, then exclaimed, “You’re Ken Wachsberger! I was told I needed to meet you.” She turned out to be Susan Smith Richardson, long-time award-winning reporter and now publisher of the Chicago Reporter, an investigative civil rights paper that goes back to 1972 and hopefully will soon be on board the project.

One publication that was not technically a journal but was a major historical document from the seventies and was distributed through the same underground network was the self-help classic Our Bodies Ourselves, produced by the Boston Women’s Health Collective. At the conference I met collective members Joan Ditzion and Miriam Hawley and both of them immediately recognized the importance of the project. This week I welcomed their following publications to the collection:

  • Women and Their Bodies—the pamphlet that started it all in 1970;
  • Our Bodies Ourselves—the pamphlet from 1971 that updated Women and Their Bodies and took, for the first time, the name that became known worldwide; and
  • Proceedings from the 1975 Conference on Women and Health that brought together 2,500 feminist activists, students, and health care providers from the United States and Canada.

Overall the Women’s Liberation Conference at Boston University was a great success. I’m looking to attend other conferences as well and would welcome suggestions.

If you were a member of a feminist or lesbian publication that is not included in the discussion above or know someone who was, please contact me right away at ken@voicesfromtheunderground.com so we can bring your paper on board.

In my next post, I’ll introduce you to some of the other papers that are on board. I’ll also explain our cost recovery = open access economic model that is enabling us to create this collection at about one-fifth the cost that other, commercial digital publishers would charge.

I’ll see you then.

Women’s Liberation Conference Celebrates 2nd Wave, Revs Up 3rd Wave

The Women’s Liberation Conference at Boston University, “A Revolutionary Moment: Women’s Liberation in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” was a celebration of a moment in history, popularly known as the second wave of feminism, that changed the world forever. Throughout the three days of seminars, readings, films, and meetings, from Thursday to Saturday, March 27-29, attendees recalled the successes of that period and beyond while cautioning about dangers ahead, including confronting the present-day war on women that is seeing past victories being rolled back. Veterans of the second wave who led and participated in that revolution networked with young activists and academics from the third wave who today are carrying the movement forward.

Main conference organizer Deborah Belle welcomed the crowd and invited veterans of the second wave to stand. You could see by the number of attendees who stood that a major reunion was taking place. Many of the women had bios in Barbara Love’s Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975. But everyone who stood played a major part locally, nationally, or internationally in creating the change that marked the period.

In her opening remarks, Deborah noted that she had been inspired to organize the conference after repeatedly hearing a narrative of feminism’s history that was different from the one she remembered.

Feminist historian Sara Evans expanded upon that theme in her opening keynote address. “Why is women’s liberation a footnote in late-twentieth century history of feminism?” she asked. She stated four myths about the movement that needed to be cleared away to see the revolution: It was confined to members of the white middle class; it can be told through a chronicle of famous women and key pieces of legislation; participants could generally be described with such words as “shrill,” “ugly,” “anti-sex,” and “oversexed”; the movement was caused by extreme sexism in the New Left.

Throughout the weekend, the power of words and impressions was never far from many analyses. Carol Hanisch, a founding member of New York Radical Women, noted that an image of the period had it being one of “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” even though it was really one of “study, struggle, and organizing.” Words that feminists used to describe events and issues lost their sharp edge. “Women’s Liberation Movement” became “Women’s Libbers,” then “the Women’s Movement.” “Abortion now” morphed into “choice.” “Roe was about privacy. After Roe, the Movement declared victory and the term was taken off the table. ‘Rape’ became ‘nonconsensual sex.” “Imagine,” she said, “a woman shouting, ‘Help! I’m having nonconsensual sex!” It was funny. It wasn’t funny.

Dana Dunsmore, a founder of Boston’s Cell 16 female liberation group, made a similar point. Asked why there was such a large gap between the second wave of feminism and the third, she said, “The second wave was so transformative that the next generation could imagine that the job was done and lose their drive.” But, she said confidently, “the third wave is doing a great job.”

I could see that in the sessions I attended and the women who I met. While many of the sessions were led by veterans of the second wave talking about the second wave, others featured third wave activists and academics sharing their research and activism. As a veteran myself of the sixties-era underground press, I found myself drawn to sessions involving media past and present. Thus, in one session, I heard third wavers Agatha Beins, women’s studies professor from Texas Woman’s University, talk about her research on the women’s papers of the seventies, and Tessa Jordan, communications professor from British Columbia Institute of Technology, discuss her research on Branching Out, Canada’s first national feminist magazine. In another, Maria Cotera, professor of women’s and Latino studies at the University of Michigan, shared updates on her impressive project to digitize primary archival materials about women of color.

As a man at a women’s liberation conference, I was considered an ally. I was also considered an ally when I attended, and spoke at, the conference in New York in 2012 to honor the one hundredth birthday of Harry Hay, the founder of the Mattachine Society, one of the early gay groups from the fifties, as well as a co-founder of Radical Faeries, a group for spiritual gays.

An ally is someone who isn’t from the group in question, as defined by members of the group in question, but is supportive of their social, political, sexual, and other goals. I stood out in Boston, one of a small handful of men among some seven hundred women. I stood out less so in New York unless you believe that you can always tell a gay man by looking at him.

In both cases, I was an “ally” because I wasn’t one of them, in the obvious sense. I’m not a woman. I’m not gay.

In the broader sense, though, which is how I saw it, I was one of them. We’re at least part of the same family.

The movements that they represented came out of the years and events from the mid-fifties through the mid-seventies that popular culture, in its less-than-nuanced way, now refers to as “the sixties.” Linda Gordon, a leader of Boston’s Bread & Roses feminist group in the sixties and now a professor of gender studies, social movements, and imperialism at New York University, gave the closing keynote speech in Boston. She defined the period of the New Left as beginning with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and ending somewhere in the mid-seventies with the early gay, lesbian, and environmental movements. I’m okay with those same parameters.

Other historians may begin or end a bit earlier or a bit later. I’m okay with those parameters also. For every individual the beginning was unique: attending a first demonstration, smoking a first joint, getting busted for the first time, getting laid for the first time and realizing that sexual mores were looser than what we learned growing up. Each ending was equally unique. For me, I entered the countercultural movement probably when I smoked my first bowl of weed out of a water pipe after tubing down the Salt River in Phoenix, Arizona, in the summer of 1968 with my friend Steve and realized that I could never again say I had never smoked dope. Two years later, I became a political activist when I got busted for the first time at a teach-in on racism at Michigan State University during the Student Strikes of May 1970 following the murders of four Kent State University students by Ohio National Guardsmen. By that time, long-time veterans of the Movement were masking their personal burnout by declaring the Movement dead. For me, it was just starting; I considered it still happening even into the eighties, though by the end of the Reagan years we were on the defensive.

With my rising political consciousness and activism as a result of Kent State, I became a hardcore member of the underground press, that community of hundreds of primarily tabloid newspapers that promoted and debated the many sides of every issue affecting the gay, lesbian, feminist, Black, Native American, Puerto Rican, Asian American, military, psychedelic, socialist, Southern consciousness, rank-and-file worker, and other alternative voices of the period but came together to oppose the Vietnam War.

The underground paper that captured my greatest attention was Joint Issue, out of Lansing-East Lansing, Michigan, my home base during that time, but I traveled throughout the country, found my way onto newspaper staffs everywhere I went, learned about their local issues, and organized and wrote about events with them.

As I wrote in my introduction to the first edition of Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press,

The period was a vision as much as a reality. It was a time of experimentation. We made mistakes and learned from them. In the beginning, men attacked sexism while women typed their articles. In the end, women founded the feminist and lesbian press and men learned that it was okay to cry. For all its faults, the sixties was a magical period. A time warp opened up and those who stepped inside glimpsed the new paradigm that brought together the best visions of the visionaries and showed us, on a small scale, how to make them work. On the pages of the underground press, writers tried to reduce the vision to the written word and apply the strategies to a larger scale. Those who were touched remain touched.

I still believe that. To me, the Women’s Liberation movement was part of the larger Movement that also included, to begin, the GLBT, ethnic, and environmental movements. I may not have grasped at a gut level that one day I would be old but I at least knew it intellectually and demonstrated in solidarity with the Gray Panthers as they fought against ageist laws and practices. I had no physical defects that hampered my participation in society but I recognized that I was a mere TAB (temporarily able-bodied). The National Writers Union, whose union card I have proudly carried for now over thirty years, wasn’t even founded until 1981 but I supported unions in the sixties and still do. I knew the liberal programs for the poor weren’t perfect but I believed and still do that they were necessary and merely needed to be improved, not eliminated, and certainly not so that rich people could get richer, so I marched for welfare rights and child care and jobs and unemployment and every other issue that mattered to the poor among us. And I certainly supported the troops—the ones who threw down their medals and said war is wrong until we’ve tried all other options for peace.

Not everyone would agree with me about this holistic approach to the Movement. Some of the conference attendees in Boston were angry to even see me and my type there. At least one woman, at an open mic, declared that men had no business being at their conference and that any who were there should—assuming the voice of every woman in attendance—“kiss our asses.”

Fortunately, not every woman shared that perspective. Many approached me, out of intellectual curiosity, to ask why I had chosen to attend a women’s conference. I was pleased to share my reasons. Word got out. By the end of the conference, women were approaching me.

In my next post, I’ll explain why I was there and introduce what is to date the most extensive project ever to digitize underground, alternative, and literary publications from the fifties through the eighties; I’ll describe the economic model, which I hope grabs the attention of serious librarians who want to enhance their collections of digital resources without busting their budgets; and I’ll list some of the feminist and lesbian papers that are on board.

Stay tuned. And if you were part of an underground, alternative, or literary publication from the period, please get in touch with me. We need to talk.

Meanwhile, congratulations to the organizers and attendees of the Boston women’s liberation conference. We need more of these conferences, not only to study the women’s movement then and now but to study the other movements that made up “the sixties” as well, and to formulate strategies for applying the lessons of then into actions for now.

Also, for another report on the conference, check out my friend Sue Katz’s “Consenting Adult” blog site.