Hitchhiking to the Revolution: A Hitchhiker’s Tale from the Seventies

Last month I posted the talk that I gave at the “Women’s History in the Digital World 2015” conference at Bryn Mawr College. Given the narrow scope of the conference, women’s studies, the scope of my talk was limited to the feminist and lesbian underground papers. The week after, I spoke at Left Forum 2015. There, the scope was “the political Left”—including national, international, any topic at all. So, my talk, adapted from two previous talks and reproduced below, was on the broader definition of the underground press, beyond the women’s papers, beyond the thread that begins with the Los Angeles Free Press. All of the definitions need to be known, their stories celebrated and shared widely especially with the current and future generations of activists, our intergenerational peers.

* * *

Emily, Ken, and Ernestine Hemingway hitchhiking in Austin, Texas, 1978. From wedding invitation. Caption: "Emily and Ken are finally getting hitched"

Emily, Ken, and Ernestine Hemingway hitchhiking in Austin, Texas, 1978. From wedding invitation. Caption: “Emily and Ken are finally getting hitched”

In the late sixties and throughout the seventies, I was a hitchhiker. I hitchhiked not only around town but to all ends of the country. Everywhere I went, I met folks who either were on their local underground newspapers or read one on a regular basis.

I met ex-cons working on Penal Digest International, a prisoners’ rights paper in Iowa City. I hitchhiked to a women’s liberation march in DC with five women from Lansing who all read Her-self, a women’s paper out of Ann Arbor. In 1972, I hitchhiked to Madison and stayed with a staffer for their paper, Takeover, who I met through their local crash pad file, and I helped the local Yippies organize a Smoke-In. Later, after they bailed me out of jail following a street demonstration, I drove down to Miami with them to organize against the Democrats and Republicans, who both held their nominating conventions there that summer. While there I contributed a piece to the Daily Planet and worked with the Underground Press Syndicate. Everywhere I went, I met gays and lesbians who tried to convert me to their agenda, which was basically “Live and let live.” They had their favorite papers that emerged after the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, including Gay Liberator in Detroit, Gay Sunshine in San Francisco, and Fag Rag in Boston.

In my foreword to the first edition of Voices from the Underground I wrote:

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.

It was a fleeting vision for sure. We were offered the fruits of so many liberation movements to harvest that it’s no mystery why there was a return to the land. But not everybody embraced the changes. The period divided and traumatized our country like no period since the civil war.

By the time the war ended, activists of the antiwar movement had turned inward and embraced the Me Decade. Meanwhile, the country swung dramatically to the right. Vietnam was pretty much written out of public discourse. Few high school or college courses studied it honestly.

By 1993, when I published the first edition of Voices from the Underground, my anthology of underground press histories as written by key people on each of the papers, we were living in Reagan’s America. The country had shifted so dramatically to the right, veterans of the antiwar movement, who were now having children and looking for career jobs, were scared to talk about their experiences, even with their kids, even though they had proudly been part of the broadest, most diverse antiwar movement in the history of our country. Those who wrote their stories with me displayed courage.

Voices from the Underground, first edition, volume 1

Voices from the Underground, first edition, volume 1

Today the underground press is becoming better known, though it has not nearly reached the level of recognition that accurate history requires. Scholars like John McMillian (Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America) and James Lewes (Protest and Survive: Underground GI Newspapers during the Vietnam War) are writing dissertations on it and publishing them. James, in fact, is the world expert on the GI underground press as well as a major supporter of Independent Voices, the underground press digital project that I’m talking about here. Young librarians like Suzanne Parenti Sink (from Florida Atlantic University) and Laurie Charnigo (from Jacksonville State University) are compiling major collections for their libraries and speaking about the underground press at conferences.

So what was the underground press?

The underground press was the independent, non-corporate, antiwar alternative to the corporate press of the Civil Rights and Vietnam eras. The traditional history of the underground press focuses on the Los Angeles Free Press, which was founded in 1964, as being the first underground paper of what was known as the counterculture. It might have been.

But in my vision and based on my work, I’ve expanded the term to include the papers of the liberation movements, whose roots go back earlier. Major gay and lesbian papers came out of the fifties: ONE, Mattachine Review, The Ladder. The first lesbian paper of our era, Vice Versa, goes back even further, to 1947. Important black papers also pre-dated the Free Press. The Student Voice, the paper of SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), began publishing in 1960. Freedomways, founded by W.E.B. Du Bois and others, began the next year. Paul Robeson founded his paper, Freedom, during the Korean War.

All of these papers already are or will be, by the way, in Independent Voices.

But these papers were sporadic. After the Free Press, and thanks to the advanced technology of offset printing, underground papers in tabloid format focusing on the antiwar movement and the emerging counterculture and its related liberation movements flourished. They were found everywhere you looked: on campus and off, in urban, suburban, rural, ghetto, barrio, and other communities in every state of the Union and in countries around the world. They represented the gay, lesbian, feminist, black, Native American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Asian American, prisoners’ rights, military, New Age, socialist, anarchist, psychedelic, high school, senior citizen, rank and file, Southern consciousness, and other alternative voices of the day. They spoke to their own unique audiences. But they were united against the war.

Many of them were members of Underground Press Syndicate, the first nationwide network of underground papers from the sixties and seventies.

The underground press was such a major, all-encompassing part of my life in the early seventies that I still find it hard to believe that not everyone knows about its role in ending the war. But today when I talk about it with young folks who are the age now that we were then, who I call our intergenerational peers, I get blank stares.

It’s no surprise. Students today still are seldom taught the truth about the Vietnam War. History classes too often still gloss over it while ignoring the role of the antiwar movement in bringing it to an end. Journalism classes still traditionally ignore or downplay the place of the underground press in the history of journalism.

Today, political blogs have taken up the tradition that we carried on in the fifties through the eighties but most young bloggers themselves have no idea of their political roots. One of the best sites, in my opinion, is Daily Kos. “Kos” is Markos Moulitsas, who founded it. So I wrote to Markos and asked him to write a foreword to volume 1 of my series as a way to link our generations. I sent him a few sample chapters. He wrote back to me and said, “Ken, I’d love to but—I have to admit—I don’t know anything about the underground press.” I said, “I know that, Markos. I read your last book. You don’t even mention it.”

But I wasn’t criticizing Markos. He’s a college graduate, even has a law degree. But he never learned about the underground press. I told him that’s why I wrote to him. I said I wanted him to write from the perspective of someone who had just discovered his own political predecessor. He agreed and he wrote a remarkable piece.

When the first edition of Voices was coming out, Art Levin, who was the general manager of Michigan State University’s State News during the time I wrote for Joint Issue, the Lansing-area underground paper, wrote:

The period of the late sixties and early seventies was a high water mark for American journalism. For the first time in American history, the vision of Justices Holmes and Brandeis blossomed and bore fruit. A multitude of voices, the essence of democracy, resounded through the land providing a compelling alternative against the stifling banality of the establishment press. What this nation had during the Vietnam War was exactly what the founding fathers understood the press to be all about when they wrote the First Amendment.

Since those days, it’s been a personal mission of mine, I admit, to make sure that that history is not forgotten and to educate others on how they can learn more about it to prevent future Vietnams from happening. So it was a karmic blessing when I was approached by Jeff Moyer one day five years back to lead the effort to digitize underground, alternative, and literary papers from the fifties through the eighties.

Jeff was the former head of the digitizing department at ProQuest. With a partner, he bought out the department and founded IDC, Image Data Conversion. But on his own he also started Reveal Digital because he had an idea for an economic model that would create wondrous keyword-searchable digital collections in a way that was friendly to library budgets and would end up with the collections going into open access, the holy grail for librarians. The first collection he wanted to create was of underground newspapers. He approached me after discovering the first edition of Voices from the Underground at the library of Eastern Michigan University, where I used to teach. He brought me on board as a consultant and not long after that he hired me full time.

What attracted me to the project, besides the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the underground press, was Jeff’s economic model, what he calls “cost recovery = open access.” Basically, we promote upcoming projects to libraries through our crowd-funding website, where we describe each project, explain its significance, lay out the proposed contents as well as the sourcing libraries, and list the line-item expenses. Then we invite libraries to make non-binding commitments to purchase the collection but we don’t yet invoice them. When we have enough commitments to recover the costs, what we call our “sales threshold,” we go into full production, including rights gathering, sourcing from libraries, and scanning and digitizing.

Projects that are looking for funding include

Libraries pay according to a tiered structure but it amounts to about 20% of what they would pay one of the larger digital publishing companies for a comparable project that the company would keep behind a pay wall forever. Those libraries that support us have immediate access to the evolving collection while it is in development. Soon after it is completed, it goes into open access where even those libraries that didn’t support it have access to it. Meanwhile we’ll be working on other projects with the same model. No library pays for every collection but everyone benefits from every collection.

This is a righteous model that deserves library and foundation support. In an earlier life I worked for many years as managing editor of Reference Services Review and Serials Review, two journals that were read widely by reference librarians and serials librarians. I read countless articles and heard countless librarian laments about rising costs and decreasing budgets. But I also remembered the community feeling that librarians shared. The focus was always on increasing and facilitating user access. Usually it was the larger libraries that made the big investments and then the benefits would trickle down to the smaller libraries. With Reveal’s tiered structure, everyone can help.

With Independent Voices, the underground press collection, we’re still looking for funding but we are already actively working on it because we wanted to get one live collection out into the public. Our goal was to get over 1,000 titles. We already have more than that including some 120 women’s papers, 130 literary magazines—what were known as “little” magazines back then, some 20 gay papers, 60 minority papers, over 100 campus, community, high school, and other underground and alternative newspapers, 900 papers published by and for members of the military in all branches of the service, and even 4 papers published by the FBI to sow dissension in the Movement.

Reveal Digital's Independent Voices digital collection

Reveal Digital’s Independent Voices digital collection

So far we’re about 40% of the way to being fully funded. We could include a lot more titles, and we would like to, if we had the funding.

We’re working with a growing team of libraries that are sending us original papers from their collections that we scan and digitize and then return safely to them along with keyword-searchable digital files and metadata of the papers that we scan.

Our goal is to upload a million pages of exact keyword-searchable digital reproductions by the end of January 2017. So far we have uploaded about 250,000 pages. Currently the collection is accessible only to patrons of our supporting libraries. After we reach our sales threshold, we’ll go into open access, which is the vision. However, libraries can make the files that we send them accessible immediately.

So this is where we are now.

In the sixties, we of the antiwar movement discovered philosopher George Santayana, who said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Yippie Abbie Hoffman added, “The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.” So we studied the first wave of feminism from the 1800s, the anarchists at the turn of the last century, the union struggles of the thirties, and much more, while we created and wrote about our present.

We’re still out there, organizing and teaching and keeping our visions alive. But as a generation we’ve peaked. Those of you who are college age and recently beyond, it’s your turn now to lead the struggle that we carried on from generations before us.

Our two generations and our struggles are intimately connected. In my generation, we flooded the colleges for at least two reasons: tuition was low and staying in college gave you a 2-S draft deferment. While we were in the college atmosphere, we learned how to think logically and critically, we met with other thinkers, and we organized to end a vicious war. It was the spawning ground for gender, minority, environmental, and other liberation movements. The underground press absorbed our thoughts and preserved them for you to study and critique.

The right has waged a relentless war against education since then—and make no mistake they want you to be either dumb and mindless—apparently truth is liberal—or so in debt you are a slave to your job, which, thanks to them, pays less and provides fewer benefits. So they have actively and enthusiastically waged war on public schools, attacked teachers’ unions, and cut aid for higher education.

The issues that we raised, the struggles we fought, were analyzed and documented in the pages of the underground and alternative press. Some of it was pretty crazy. One night I dropped acid with a fellow staffer and we went to a revival meeting to hear Leighton Ford, the son-in-law of Billy Graham. I took voracious notes—there was speed in the acid. On the way back, I read aloud some of what I wrote and my friend thought it was funny so I published my notes and called the article “I Dropped Acid and Saw God.” Another article I wrote was about a game a couple of my friends made up where they followed police cars and tried to not get busted. I called the article “Got One on the Pig-O-Scope.” I was attacked for being irresponsible because high schoolers read our paper. I was.

"I Dropped Acid and Saw God," from Joint Issue 3:16 (10/30/72)

“I Dropped Acid and Saw God,” from Joint Issue 3:16 (10/30/72)

But we also attacked the government’s atrocities in Vietnam and other countries and connected them to injustices at home as we worked to create a peace community. Your battle, one of them, is to take back the schools and colleges by ensuring the right to a decent, low-cost education that leads to a good job. Join the movement to eliminate student debt. If we can wipe bank debts clean and give billionaires tax breaks, we can wipe student debts clean also.

Today we’re doing okay on some of the social issues that emerged back then: gay rights, legalized marijuana, health care. Public awareness is starting to turn the corner on the environment and the Middle East. We’re getting trounced, but raising awareness, on women’s rights, immigrant rights, voting rights. Economically we’ve got our work cut out for us with union rights, student tuition, the wealth gap, campaign finance laws, expanding Social Security. There are other issues, and they’re all connected. Learn how. Don’t accept simplistic solutions that pit potential allies against each other. And don’t give in to despair.

We made lots of mistakes back when but we made some brilliant analyses, changed the world, and had fun. We quoted the words of anarchist Emma Goldman, who said, “A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.” Stew Albert, who was one of the legendary founders of the Yippies, said to me one day words that I have never forgotten. He said, “We can’t lose. We’re having too much fun.” It was summer 1972 in Miami Beach, where the Democrats and Republicans were holding their presidential conventions. We were at that moment on our way to the Yippie Puke-In.

Study this period. There has never been a more exciting, outrageous, mythological, liberating, artistic, magical period in our country’s history.

Begin by scouring the pages of the underground press.

Challenge everything you learn, including everything I just said.

Then create your own myths.

Coming to New York, Hope to Meet NY Friends 7/25/11

I’m honored to be the guest of the National Writers Union-New York chapter during my upcoming visit to New York. I’ll be in town all week, from Friday to Friday July 22-29, but on Monday July 25, NWU-NY is hosting a reception for me in honor of volume 1 of my 4-volume Voices from the Underground Series, titled Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, Part 1.

Many thanks to NWU-NY for your hospitality.

I’ll be talking about the underground press and the significance of alternative media in our nation’s history. The roots of the National Writers Union itself are in the underground press as many of the founders and early members were underground press veterans. Even today, many of the most devoted activists are veterans (myself included).

I’ll also talk for the first time about an exciting digital project that has been occupying a major amount of my time. If you are a veteran of any of the underground papers from the period—including the feminist, lesbian, gay, military, and ethnic papers—I hope to see you. If I haven’t already talked to you about the project, be sure to come so we can talk and I can include your paper in the upcoming digital collection. (And if you aren’t from New York but you’re intrigued, write to me at ken@azenphonypress.com.)

  • Date: Monday July 25
  • Time: 6-8 p.m.
  • Location: 12th floor, UAW conference room, 256 West 38th, New York

If you don’t want to hear me talk but you’re feeling hungry, refreshments will be served.

Meanwhile, here’s a recent review of volume 1.

Volume 2 should be out any minute. I’m accepting pre-publication orders.

I hope to see you there.

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.

In-house Editing Does Honor to Mica’s Story

I just finished reviewing the edited manuscript pages of Voices from the Underground, volume 2, Michael “Mica” Kindman’s story. MSU Press editors did a fine job of editing. They edited lightly, respecting Mica’s writing and my editing, in the same way they edited for volume 1, which will be out hopefully in December (but definitely in January). For that I was grateful. Mica’s story is powerful; the text is graceful. A heavy editing hand would have done the text no good and a lot of harm.

Most of what the house editors did was to insert html coding and bring our text in line with their house style in such areas as the following:

  •  Comma usage
  • Uppercasing or lowercasing
  • Spelling out or abbreviating terms
  • Spelling out or using digits for numbers.

In addition they raised questions when the text was unclear to them. This, to me, is the area where editors are most useful. If it makes sense to me, does that mean it makes sense to the reader? Usually I can pull myself back from my ego far enough to read from the reader’s perspective but not always. The editor, on the other hand, is always far enough from the writer’s ego. In some cases what I already had was correct. In others, her query and my answer will now give readers a smoother read.

Mica’s story ends with him on the cusp of death but still holding out hope for the future. The foreword by Steven Muchnick, who goes by the name of Rosemary for Remembrance within the Radical Faeries community, brings Mica’s story to a close. No one will read Mica’s story, then Steven’s afterword, then see the photo of the AIDS blanket square with Mica’s name on it and not shed a tear. Hopefully readers also will draw strength from Mica’s courage and humanity.

For me, the most powerful line was at the end of the last chapter of the main text where he wrote, “Getting to write about all of it has been a tremendously healing, and confrontational, experience for me.” I know that I was the person who asked him to tell his complete story and gave him encouragement as he wrote it. So, even though he didn’t say so directly, I took that line as his thank you to me. That was where I shed a tear. He worked on his story for two years, dying of AIDS the whole time. He finally died two months after submitting the final manuscript. I believe he lived those extra two years so he could finish his story.

It deserves a wide audience, not only in book form but on the screen as a record of a tumultuous period that covered the politics of the sixties, the cults of the seventies, and the AIDS tragedy of the eighties.

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.

Dissident Press Series Is No More: Series Title Changed to Voices from the Underground

Got the word recently that Michigan State University Press had decided to nix my preferred series title for my four upcoming books on the underground press: Dissident Press Series. They said it sounded too European. I had to laugh when I heard that. I disagreed also. And I was disappointed partly because I had grown to love the name, partly because I’ve been promoting the series using that name, and partly because I had already reserved the domain names DissidentPressSeries.com and DissidentPressSeries.net for the website that I’m building to promote the series.

They said they were going with Voices from the Underground for the entire series title rather than just the name of the two anthologies. The subtitles originally were going to be Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press and More Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press. Those they changed to simply the first subtitle with Part 1 and Part 2 at the end. They said “More” in a title usually indicates that the contents are inferior.

Hmm, I don’t want that. And if I may say, if that is correct it would be misleading because the second anthology is hardly inferior. I just couldn’t fit all the stories into one book and keep the price affordable. You’ll see what I mean when you review the website, which will include the full tables of contents for all four books—two anthologies and two monographs. Every book is its own adventure.

But the website isn’t up yet so hang in there.

Meanwhile, I can’t complain about—in fact, I’m pleased with—MSUP’s choice of Voices from the Underground as the series title. Voices from the Underground was the title of the first edition of the series when it appeared in 1993 as one huge book of insider histories. That one book, over 600 pages laid out in an 8 ½ x 11, 2-column format, has now been updated, revised, and expanded with additional histories and important frontmatter forewords, and will appear as the four books.

Then, miracle of miracles, I did a domain search on TLCI Website Solutions and was amazed to discover that voicesfromtheunderground.com and voicesfromtheunderground.net were still free.

They aren’t anymore.

So down the line you’ll be able to learn more about the series by writing to info@voicesfromtheunderground.com or going to voicesfromtheunderground.com. In the meantime, for more information, continue to contact me at info@azenphonypress.com.

More later.

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.