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Stone, Laurie—The Village Voice
Stone, Laurie. "Repetition Compulsion." The Village Voice (February 24, 1998): 139.

You can almost smell the pot seeping out from the vitrines, weed that filled lungs and wafted over mimeo machines as they churned out purple-colored, overinked chronicles of living on the cheap. In their expansive, joyous exhibit A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960-1980, curators Rodney Phillips and Steven Clay get about as crazy as you can amid the staid corridors of the 42nd Street Library. In scores of little magazines, snapshots, personal reminiscences, and a videotape, the show offers a Proustian hit of youthful exuberance, a glance at a time when artists built a community apart from the imprimatur of the academy.

On one wall, in a painting by George Schneeman, 12 naked artists level impish gazes. A videotape flashes Ted Berrigan eating lunch at a greasy spoon that serves "meatballs on rye for 75 cents." The 'hood was downtown, because it accommodated weirdness and you could live on practically nothing. At the center was the Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church, where, on the second floor, sat a mimeo machine.  The show peepholes into the origins and eccentricities of the writers' rags. The night Ed Sanders decided to start Fuck you/ A Magazine of the Arts, he was at a bar on 2nd and B, having just seen a film by Jonas Mekas. Anne Waldman, one of the editors of The World, recalls how a sociologist friend wrangled funding for the magazine out of a grant to "benefit alienated youth on the Lower East Side."

The writing in the littles was experimental, performance-based, and doggishly snuffling after daily life. LeRoi Jones was one of the rare minorities on the scene and Waldman, Diane di Prima, Carol Berge, and Bernadette Mayer among the scant women. It was mostly a riot of shaggy, libidinal white boys. But today's creators of zines and Web sites—though with far more access to the zeitgeist than their predecessors—still borrow inspiration from this early need to seize the reins of publishing and have their say: raw, impolite, and without translation.





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