Crack Team of Digitizers Preserving Music History

Do you miss those cutting-edge hip hop and rap magazines from the eighties and nineties?

Does your favorite academic library have incomplete runs of your favorite rock and folk music magazines and the pages are torn or missing?

For the past seven years, I have been on a crack team of digitizers at sister companies Reveal Digital and NA Publishing who are creating amazing collections of exact digital reproductions of important political and cultural newspapers and magazines from the nineteen fifties onward (with a few that dip into the forties). I’m the guy who figures out who the rights holders are, then researches how to contact them or their heirs and invites them to include their publications in the collections.

Our goals are to preserve these publications, which too often yellow around the edges and crumble as they age; and to make them accessible to current and future readers, for whom if it isn’t in electronic form it doesn’t exist.

Underground Press

Our premier collection was the landmark Independent Voices, which, when it is finished, will include some 1,000 underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties, encompassing the Civil Rights and Vietnam era antiwar and liberation movements.

 

 

 

 

Rock Music Magazines

Our current series is of music magazines. The Rock collection is complete with minor exceptions, including sourcing of a few remaining issues of CREEM.

 

 

Folk Music Magazines

Folk, including Sing Out!, Broadside, People’s Songs Bulletin, and others, is smaller than Rock but scanning and digitizing continue and it is growing. We’d still like to add a few titles.

 

 

 

If you loved the music, check out the magazines in our collection that covered it:

http://mma.napubcoonline.com/
username: sales@napubco.com
password: Seeger

Hip Hop and Rap Music Magazines

Next is Hip Hop and Rap. We’re still in the crucial rights-gathering stage. Current and former hip hop and rap editors and publishers:

  • Would you like your magazine to be digitized at no cost to you?
  • Would you like to receive keyword-searchable digital files to put up on your website at no cost to you?

Then email me today at ken@azenphonypress.com and let’s talk.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Ken

Advertisements

Lessons from Vietnam Era at Printers Row

I’m late in reporting on last weekend’s Chicago Tribune Printers Row Literary Fest. After four months of strategic preparation and psych-up, it came and went. I returned home to way too many emails and some serious deadlines that I’m just meeting.

My deepest thanks to everyone who showed up on Saturday and/or Sunday to share a brief moment with me recalling the Vietnam era and drawing lessons for the present. I was grateful for the opportunities to share stages Saturday with Bill Ayers and Sunday with NPR’s Alison Cuddy, and also to connect or reconnect—before, at, and after both events—with friends from high school, cousins, members of the National Writers Union-Chicago chapter, veterans of the underground press and the Vietnam era, and others who weren’t even born then but knew something happened then that needs studying now.

Saturday’s show

On Saturday, Bill began by talking about the importance of the Voices from the Underground Series and the significance of our telling our own stories because of the false mythologizing that the right is doing. He used as an example the Catholic Church’s recent attempt to blame their entire pedophilia scandal on the liberal sexual attitudes of the sixties. He also noted that the period known as the sixties was more than just a decade that ended after 1969. Then he introduced me.

I began by noting that the sixties didn’t begin for me until 1970, as a result of Kent State. I talked about the series and how it came to be, told a few stories, we did some give and take, and then we opened the floor to questions.

In response to one question, I agreed that today’s bloggers are the political successors to the veterans of the underground press. Unfortunately, I said, many have no idea we even existed. That’s one of the changes I hope will come about through my books, and that was one reason why I invited Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, one of the most important progressive blog sites today, to write the foreword to volume 1. His contribution was masterful. However, at this time, I said, I don’t believe blogs have eliminated the need for newspapers. As the questioner brought up, you can’t hand out blogs. Handouts, whether flyers or newspapers or buttons, I agreed, are a powerful organizing tool.

I broadened the definition of what the underground press is seen to be. “The traditional story line says that Art Kunkin used the new technology of offset printing to start the Los Angeles Free Press in 1964 and from that paper emerged the hundreds of papers that we know of as the underground press. It’s a good story and a big part of it is true but for me the definition is too narrow.” I noted that the gay press began in 1947 when a lesbian office worker started a mimeographed 12-page paper called Vice Versa so she could meet other lesbians (a fact I only recently learned from having read Rodger Streitmatter’s landmark Unspeakable: The Rise of the Gay and Lesbian Press in America). She took the name of Lisa Ben, a rearrangement of the word “lesbian.” During the fifties, other gay and lesbian papers included ONE, Mattachine Review, and The Ladder. African Americans had several important radical papers that were founded before 1964 including Paul Robeson’s Freedom; Freedomways; The Liberator, The Student Voice, put out by Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); and Triple Jeopardy, by the Third World Women’s Alliance. A paper given credit for being a starting point for the women’s liberation movement, called “a kind of memo,” was written in 1965 by Casey Hayden and Mary King to express concerns within the fertile organizing atmosphere of SNCC.

Then, for the sake of those who came of age after the Vietnam era ended or just forgot, I pointed out some of the memorable titles that Chicago hosted: Seed, Rising Up Angry, Muhammad Speaks, Lavender Women, Black Maria, CWLU News, Voices of the Women’s Liberation Movement, Spokeswoman, Killer Dyke, and Feminist Voice. I’m sure there were others but those were the ones I called out.

If you were associated with any of those papers or know anyone who was, please write to me. I’m involved in an exciting digital project now, which I didn’t talk about in Chicago, that is attracting the attention of underground press veterans all over the country. I would love for these papers to be part of it if I can talk to the rights holders and get permission. [Muhammad Speaks, CWLU News (and papers associated with it: Womankind, Blazing Star, and Secret Storm), and Voices of the Women’s Liberation Movement already are.]

Overall, it was a positive audience, they laughed at the right places, and at the end, I’m grateful to say, they bought books.

Sunday’s show

My co-panelists on Sunday were Matthew Ehrlich, author of Radio Utopia: Postwar Audio Documentary in the Public Interest, a study of radio journalism in post-World War II America as we moved into Cold War mode; and Matt [his preference] Carlson, author of On the Condition of Anonymity: Unnamed Sources and the Battle for Journalism, a study of anonymous sources especially around the time of the Iraq War. Alison did an impressive job of tying together these three marginally related books, using as the common theme journalism in war time.

Leading up to the panel, we had discussed the idea of her letting us each introduce our own books and then opening it up for free-flowing discussion. It sounded good in theory but the more I thought about it the more I became convinced that it would be a disaster to have three egocentric authors nosing for opportunities to plug our respective books. Fortunately, Alison prevented that potential scenario from reaching fruition by asking us her own pre-planned questions one at a time.

She began by allowing us to each give a 3-minute overview of what in the current moment drove us to do our particular projects. In my case, the roots of the Voices from the Underground Series go back to the late 1980s so I told how it came to be, how it was received, how it went out of print, and how it came back in an expanded, updated, four-volume format. (Yes, I pushed the 3-minute time limit.) Then she moved us into broader topics including the relationship between journalism and war, the possible roles journalists can play during war, the various pressures they face in covering conflict, and the way technology shapes the coverage they are able to do.

I noted that contributors to underground papers weren’t necessarily trained journalists; they were community and antiwar organizers, activists, and thinkers who rabble roused first and then wrote about it, or organized events and encouraged the community to attend, or built countercultural institutions and used the pages of the underground press to give them strength. I got a good laugh when I noted that writing for the underground press itself was not a good career move. Matt C. got a follow-up laugh on his next question when he noted that writing for the mainstream press today isn’t necessarily a good career move either.

Today, with the rise and proliferation of new mediums for accessing and distributing information, including e-newspapers and blogs and even Twitter, we’re watching the decline of certain forms of journalism, especially print newspapers. In addition, I said, investigative journalism is more dangerous because the number of staff journalists on papers is being reduced so journalists doing real investigative reporting do not have the protection of large newspapers. They work with no health insurance because they are freelancers so if they get sick or injured they have to cover expenses on their freelance income. And, being freelancers, they have no assurance that what they write will even be picked up, or if it is picked up they will be given a living wage. Certainly if they are captured they have no assurance that a news institution will use its strength to free the reporter.

I reminded listeners that Bradley Manning was being tortured in prison for exposing ugly truths about our government. “Instead of being treated like a hero for uncovering lies he’s being convicted without a trial, even by Harvard law school grad President Barack Obama, who could have used the truth Manning exposed to indict the Bush-Cheney administration but instead has chosen to embrace it.”

Overall, I thought our answers complemented each other well. We fooled the audience into thinking we knew what we were talking about. Here’s hoping the C-SPAN audience was as receptive.

 Please let me know if you are looking for a speaker on the Vietnam era.

Ken Reflects on Four Sealed Boxes

I waited seventeen years to see the amazing stories in Voices from the Underground back in print. The interim period affected my husbandhood, my fatherhood, my livelihood, and my health. At times the enormity of turning one oversized 8 ½ x 11, 2-column format, 600+-page landmark record of the Vietnam era (1993 edition) into four separate books, all updated, expanded, and revised, overwhelmed me and led me to periods of despondency and hopelessness. At others, it revved me up so much I was unstoppable. But most of all, I never halted my forward movement. I fell often, but I got up every time as I pestered contributors whose stories needed updating, searched out images to bring their stories to life, and, once the demise of the economy made my publishing four volumes myself impossible, challenged publishers to commit to publishing four books on the same commercially esoteric subject. Meanwhile, I watched helplessly as contributors—who like me were young twenty years ago when I first approached them—moved on to their next spiritual adventures, and I felt the urgency of getting the stories out before I lost any others.

And so last night I came home from a long night of writing and found inside the door four boxes that Emily had picked up at MSU Press in East Lansing. Sixty-two copies of volume 1, Insider  Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, Part 1, most of which were pre-ordered from supporters, the others of which I will sell so I can purchase more inventory or give away to loved ones.

I wanted to share the adventure of opening the first box with Emily, whose patience and eternal love while I was working on the books will go down in history as heroic, but she hadn’t yet arrived home from her play rehearsal. At the same time, I had to pack lunch for today, eat a late dinner, and then prepare for a 7:00 meeting this morning with my sales force. By the time Emily got home, I was feeling rushed. The mood was all wrong. Opening the box would be better today, I decided, but Emily will be spending tonight in Lansing, where she works during the day, to spare her one long back-and-forth drive from and to Ann Arbor.

So I decided instead to once again put off opening that first box. I looked at all four boxes every time I walked by them going to and from the kitchen. Once or twice, I paused, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath, thanked the forces around me that kept me going, and vibed a successful future for the new, four-volume Voices from the Underground Series.

Tomorrow night we’ll celebrate with wine or champagne, Emily’s choice. Then we’ll look through the first book together, and when we’re done I’ll inscribe it for her.

Volume 1 of Voices at Typesetter, Due out Early January

I got the word last week from Michigan State University Press that volume 1 of my Voices from the Underground Series is now at the typesetter. Official release date is January 2011 but I am told that books will be in the warehouse by December 1, 2010, and possibly earlier—in other words (and forty years ago I never could have imagined myself saying this) just in time for the holiday season.

I have to pay cash up front to order books to resell so look for advance sale offers as I hustle to raise the money I need to fulfill my first order. Books will be available from my upcoming website, www.voicesfromtheunderground.com. I’ve begun writing the text already and am almost finished, but the site won’t go live until I am able to make books available or just before then.

Volume 1, Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, is the first of four volumes of histories of underground papers from the period as written by key activists on the papers. The underground press was the dissident press, the antiwar, noncorporate press. Today’s progressive bloggers are direct descendants of these underground press veterans. In fact, many of today’s bloggers are underground press veterans.

The first and third volumes are anthologies; the second and fourth are monographs. Following release of the first volume, subsequent volumes will be released every six months until all four are out.

More details to follow. For now, let me say that there is nothing like Voices from the Underground and I believe there never will be. Every volume stands alone as a testament to the period. The four-volume series provides a picture of the Vietnam era antiwar movement unlike any that has ever been published. Stories represent the gay, lesbian, feminist, Black, Puerto Rican, Native American, military, prisoners’ rights, socialist, Southern consciousness, new age, rank-and-file, and other dissident voices of what was known as the counterculture. Stories are accompanied by plenty of images and article reprints that further help to bring the period alive.

Volume 1 features two forewords that are being reprinted from an earlier version of Voices from the Underground—by Abe Peck, veteran of the legendary Chicago Seed, and William Kunstler, the foremost progressive lawyer of the period—and a new one by Markos Moulitsas, the founder of Daily Kos, the most influential progressive blogsite today. I’m deeply honored by their participation.

At a later date, I’ll write more about some of the stories that are featured in volume 1.

Until then, anyone wanting more information or to reserve books can write to me at ken@azenphonypress.com.

Progressive Activists to Celebrate, Educate in Ann Arbor

I hope to see friends and fellow activists at the upcoming activists’ conference March 12-14 at University of Michigan. The conference, called “Bring It Back, Take It Forward: A Celebration of 50 Years of Activism,” will bring together activists from the Vietnam era and today. It will be a time to look back to what we did then; and then look to the present and future to discuss how we can move forward together.

I’ll be speaking Saturday morning on a panel called “Independent Media from the Underground Press to Today.” I’ll be joined by John Woodford and Harvey Wasserman, two major figures from underground press history. John was a former editor of Muhammad Speaks, the newspaper of the Black Muslims; Harvey was an original member of Liberation News Service, the AP-UPI of the underground press. John and Harvey are both contributors to my upcoming Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press. Joining us will be Michael Dover, another veteran of the Vietnam era, and Roshaun Harris, a young media activist from the Detroit area.

 Admission is free.

Following is the official press release.

 * * *

Ann Arbor, MI – February 27, 2010 – Progressive activists including United Farmworkers’ President Arturo Rodriguez, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Dean Baker and famed radical activist Bill Ayers will convene in Ann Arbor March 12-14 as part of a conference focused on  celebrating accomplishments and working on next steps in the struggle for social justice. The conference, entitled “Bring It Back, Take It Forward, A Celebration of 50 Years of Activism,” will be held in the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor’s Rackham Building on Friday and Saturday March 12 and 13 and at the School of Social Work Building on Sunday March 14.

Several panel presentations are scheduled, focusing on topics including the environment, health care, feminism, immigrant rights, the independent media from the underground press to today, Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian and Gay (TBLG) issues as well as the progressive movement itself. Friday night March 12 highlights include a labor and economics panel featuring Rodriguez, Baker, and current University of Michigan student activist Yousef Rabhi and moderated by State Representative Rebekah Warren. “People interested in what is happening in the progressive movement now and also in learning the lessons of the past should definitely attend this conference,” says organizer Tim Colenback.

Additionally on Friday evening a panel will be held on the progressive movement, which includes veteran activists Ayers, Rick Feldman, Ron Scott. and Bob Zellner, along with Laura Russello, a current member of the Michigan Peaceworks board.  The original President of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Alan Haber, will moderate. Longtime-activist Haber commented that “the ‘Bring It Back, Take It Forward’ conference is the first event in a new season of activism. Everyone interested in progressive change should attend.”

Saturday afternoon March 13 features two panels, one focused on feminist activism and the other on peace activism.  The feminist panel includes Jan BenDor, who was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame and was a Co-Founder of the Women’s Crisis Center; Kathleen Fojtik Stroud, the founder of SAFE House, the first publicly funded domestic violence shelter in the United States; and Catherine McClary, the current Washtenaw County Treasurer.

The peace panel will be dedicated to the late University of Michigan Political Science Professor J. David Singer.  The peace panel will include Alan Haber, Odile Hugonot Haber, Andy Lichterman. and Paul Williamson.  Additionally, Eastern Michigan University political science professors Judith Kullberg and Richard Stahler-Sholk will present as members of the peace panel.

Saturday night has a decidedly more “Take It Forward” flavor with presentations by young Detroit activist Yusef Shakur, Ann Arbor-based performance artists Riot Youth’s Gayrilla Theater, and Drag King Rebellion and spoken word artist Invincible. The Saturday night schedule also includes presentations from former Human Rights Party activist Nancy Romer, longtime advocate for criminal justice system reform Rosemary Sarri, and drug-law-reform advocate Chuck Ream.

Other panel and discussion topics at the conference include health care, immigrant rights, and environmental justice.

At noon on Sunday March 14 participants will meet at the University of Michigan School of Social Work to discuss what was learned and focus on what the future should entail. More information on the all-day event and the complete schedule are available at www.BringItBackTakeItForward.org.  Information is available by calling 734/717-5634 or by e-mailing CelebratingActivism@umich.edu.

This can’t-miss, once-in-a-lifetime event is co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor District Library, Gray Panthers of Washtenaw, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ), National Writers Union-Southeast Michigan Chapter (NWU-SEM), Social Welfare Action Alliance (SWAA), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and several University of Michigan schools, colleges, programs, and departments. Please check the conference website for additional sponsors.

Volume 1 Files Finally Received from Publisher

I spent the long Presidents’ Day weekend reviewing the frontmatter and initial stories from volume 1 of the Dissident Press Series, Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press. After so many months of sending files to Michigan State University Press, finally receiving files back from them, for both the stories and the images, made it all feel real.

I’m pleased so far with their work. Files showed electronic coding, of course. That’s how book pages are prepared in this electronic age.

Most of the other editing was light, mostly for the mundane purpose of bringing my style into conformity with theirs and being consistent. Uppercasing or lowercasing: “Leftist” or “leftist”; “Communist” or “communist”?  When should I spell out numbers one to ten? When should I use numerals? Context matters, and I have my own preferences as a long-time editor. But after editing some 1,500 pages from the four volumes I couldn’t remember which way I went for what context every single time. Long ago, I resolved that I would just do my best and go with their style. They made lots of those types of changes. Thanks, MSU Press.

Beyond that, they showed deep respect for the writing of my contributors and for my own editing as the series editor. As MSUP’s in-house project editor for the series wrote, “Our aim was to correct or query any apparent errors or omissions and to impose a book-level style in purely mechanical matters (for example, in the decision of how to render mentions of decades—between, say, seventies, nineteen seventies, and 1970s), while allowing variation in matters that could be considered more than mechanical (such as the decision of whether to capitalize the racial nominations black/Black and white/White).”

Also, the title, Dissident Press Series, is now official. For those reasons I am grateful, for the respect they showed our work and because I do not have to send the files back to my contributors just to have them say, “It’s still okay.”

The only disappointment I’m feeling is that volume 1 won’t be out until the end of this year. Our initial tentative publication date was May 2010. The other part of the plan, to release a new volume every six months until all four are out, is still intact.

On the bright side, the whole process has taught me patience.

I’ll be writing more about volume 1 in coming weeks, especially as we get closer to publication date. In the meantime, if you’re interested in being part of my mailing list, please write to me at info@azenphonypress.com.

Barnes & Noble Celebrates National Authors Day: Invites Me to Sell Books

 

Sunday is National Authors Day. To celebrate, Barnes & Noble, on Washtenaw in Ann Arbor by Whole Foods and my favorite Panera, is inviting authors to sell their books in two-hour shifts. I was invited to be one of them so, first of all, I hope anyone reading this will visit me any time from 3 to 5 Sunday November 1 and bring your friends. Secondly, I hope you’ll buy a few books to enjoy and to give away as gifts for the holiday season.

Some of my books are temporarily out of print. Here are the ones I’ll have with me:

  • Transforming Lives: A Socially Responsible Guide to the Magic of Writing and Researching: the first textbook devoted to helping students turn Ken Macrorie’s brilliant I-Search idea into a full-length, life-changing research project while demystifying the process of writing and researching, arousing their curiosity, and awakening their dormant passion for expressing themselves through writing. So student-friendly it’s been called “the anti-textbook.” If you’re a teacher of writing whose students don’t want to be in your class because they hate or fear writing, this book is for you. It’s been used successfully at the high school and Freshman college level as well as by individual writers who want to find or regain the flow.
  • Beercans on the Side of the Road: The Story of Henry the Hitchhiker: called a cult classic by someone whose name I long forgot but whose characterization I have ever since used. Henry’s story, the adventure of a young college dropout hitchhiker in search of the perfect flow and what it means to be a writer, came out of my hitchhiking years during the seventies when I established my reputation as the foremost expert on intranational hitchhiking in the country.
  • The Ballad of Ken and Emily: or, Tales from the Counterculture: a collection of short stories, poems, head trips, essays, and journal entries including “Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Growing Up as a New Left Jew” (an analysis of the Yippie literature from a Jewish perspective as well as a history of the Jewish Left in America and an account of the Yippies and Zippies in Miami Beach in the summer of 1972); “Accidental Revolutionary” (a fictionalized version of my first political arrest following the Kent State murders in May 1970); “Diary of a Mad Anarchist” parts 1 and 2 (May Day 1971 in D.C. during the May Day demonstrations; May 1972, Madison, Wisconsin, after Nixon blockaded Haiphong Harbor), plus “Being in Jail Is Like Finals Week” (because, in case you didn’t notice it, all three arrests happened in May), “Yo Ho Ho-Ulp” (my brief life as a gillnetter in Sebasco, Maine), “The Busy Person’s Guide to Street Yoga” (how I kept limber and in shape while on the road), and more.
  • The Last Selection: A Child’s Journey through the Holocaust: an amazing story about a girl who spent time in Auschwitz during World War II. If you know about Dr. Mengele, you know about the selections. At one point the war ended. Before that, you had— the last selection. Thirteen-year old Goldie was in it, the only child along with her mother and a hundred other women. This is the only book that gives you “life in the gas chamber.” I co-wrote the book with her current husband Sylvan Kalib.
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cancer Book: Like all the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, this one is an anthology of contributions from lots of folks connected with the subject. This time, one of the contributions is mine, an excerpt from my booklet, Your Partner Has Breast Cancer?: 21 Ways to Keep Sane as a Support Person. I’ll have copies of the book and the booklet.

Finally, I’ll have information on my upcoming Dissident Press Series, which Michigan State University Press will be publishing in four parts beginning with the first in May 2010 and followed every six months by another until all four are out. Stories are written by insiders of underground papers—the predecessors to today’s progressive blogs—representing the Black, Puerto Rican, feminist, lesbian, gay, socialist, psychedelic, Southern consciousness, rank-and-file, prisoners’ rights, military, Native American, and other antiwar voices from the Vietnam era.

I hope to see you there. You can always purchase books from my web site but if you show up you don’t have to pay shipping and handling.