A Secret Location in the Lower East Side.
This was the mailing address for the publication known as "F*** You: A Magazine of the Arts." "F*** You" was an underground/counterculture journal, written, illustrated, and cranked out on an old mimeograph machine by Ed Sanders, who solicited work from other writers with the motto "I'll print anything." This 'anything' would include work by Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, William Burroughs, and Andy Warhol. Sanders' magazine was the magazine of the 60s, landing Sanders on the cover of Life.
Born and raised in Eastern Missouri, Sanders hitchhiked to New York in the summer of 1958, after being accepted into New York University. There he encountered a new world, one populated by Beat poets, avant-garde artists, underground bookstores, coffeehouses, poetry readings, civil rights protests, jazz music, free sex, and the ubiquitous marijuana cigarette. It was the seeds of what historians would later call the counterculture, and it left him with a profound state of wonderment. Sanders decided to dedicate his every waking moment to be part of it all.
His first contribution was the 'gutter expletive' magazine; the second one was his arrest. Invited to demonstrate against the New York Atomic Energy Commission, Sanders was arrested with 30 other protesters. Sentenced to 10 days in jail for disorderly conduct, Sanders told his jailers that he was a journalist, and was going to write about his treatment behind bars. To his utter confusion, the prison guards and police ('the man') were genuinely interested in his writing, and asked him to send them copies of his magazine when he was let out.
Besides working on his magazine full time, Sanders opened up the Peace Eye Bookstore, founded and was lead singer for the psychedelic rock band The Fugs, and became a husband and father. He also found time to write books, including "Poem from Jail," "Peace Eye," "Shards of God," "Tales of Beatnik Glory," and "Thirsting for Peace in a Raging Century." He continued to attend many more protests; rage against 'the establishment'; have his bookstore raided by law enforcement; and debate the Vietnam War on various talk shows.
Everything unravelled for Sanders on October 15, 1969. It was on that date when he read about the arrest of a hippie commune at the Spahn Movie Ranch in Los Angeles. His direct experience with counterculture participants made it unlikely that they would be what the newspapers said they were: "Satan's Slaves," willing to do anything for a bug-eyed cult leader named Charles Manson.
Sanders and his peers worked for a world without violence, with human betterment as their ultimate goal. Reading about these arrests, he felt it was obvious they were being set-up.
Sanders flew out to Los Angeles to interview all the participants, hoping to write an impressive article that would exonerate Manson and his followers. Sanders came back a changed man. Instead of the commune being framed by law enforcement, Sanders found "the clear and present manifestation of evil." Interviewing Manson and his followers, Sanders would later write, had "helped me grow up; helped me to get to know and become friends with police officers … and to appreciate the sense of right and wrong given to me by my parents."
The 60s, for Sanders at least, were over. He disbanded the Fugs, closed his bookstore, and spent the next two years writing about Manson and his cult.
"The Family" was published in 1971, and was touted by the Boston Phoenix as "One of the best-researched, best-written, thoroughly-constructed, and eminently significant books of our time. A masterpiece." One would expect no less from the publisher of "F*** You."
The 60s may have ended, but Sanders and his ideals are still (thankfully) with us. He has written a dozen more books, and received even more awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the American Book Award. Now 72, he still strives to make the world a better place. His current work can be found online at woodstockjournal.com.