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The Ed Sanders Archive

Peace Eye Bookstore, 1964–1970

Ed Sanders’ mug shot after the Peace Eye bust by the New York City police, January 2, 1966.

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In 1964, Ed Sanders moved his trusty Gestetner mimeograph machine (included in the archive) to an old kosher butcher shop at 383 East 10th Street (between Avenues B and C), and opened the Peace Eye Bookstore. Peace Eye quickly became a vital gathering spot for a Lower East Side community of writers, artists, musicians, poets, members of the alternative press, political activists, and outsiders. Among the many activities percolating at Peace Eye were the founding of the Committee to Legalize Marijuana (LeMar) by Ed Sanders and Allen Ginsberg, the organizing of possibly America's first demonstrations calling for the legalization of marijuana; and what is often considered the first underground comic art exhibition with work by Robert Crumb, Spain Rodriguez, Kim Deitch, Art Spiegelman and others.

The history of all aspects of this vital cultural landmark, including the infamous 1966 police raid and arrest of Ed Sanders for obscenity, is thoroughly documented in the archive.

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click images to view larger (then use arrow keys to view all images as a gallery)

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The two-year lease that began December 1, 1964, for the storefront at 383 East 10th Street, with the beginning rent of $600 a year.

 

Snapshot of the second iteration of Peace Eye Bookstore, 1968.

In the winter of 1968, Sanders decided to move Peace Eye from its location on East 10th Street to the offices of the East Village Other at 147 Avenue A, between 9th and 10th. His friend and artist Spain Rodriguez painted the approximately 3 by 8 foot store sign (which is in the archive).

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“Out to Grope” sign for Peace Eye with addition by Harry Smith, 1965.

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Contact sheet showing Ed Sanders and the comic art show at Peace Eye, 1968.

 

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Press release for the “Ape Rape” comic art show. Written, designed, and printed by Ed Sanders, 1968.

Sanders’ press release for the Peace Eye comic art show begins, “These comic strip plexi are high energy spew-grids which at their best discharge intense power & beauty in to the brain as the eye slurps across their surface. The jolt of such immediate energy creates in the beholder profound sensations of mirth, anarch, poetry, sodomy-froth, Hideum apparitions and somehow, faith. It’s not easy.”

 

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A page with a photo booth picture of Ed and a photograph from Claude Pélieu’s opening at Peace Eye, March 28, 1969.

Ed has identified Mary Beach, Anita Steckel, himself, and Claude Pélieu in the photograph.

 

Ed Sanders, press release from Peace Eye, 1968. Written and printed by Sanders at Peace Eye.

“Ed Sanders in Deep Coma Following Attempted Self-Fuck— special to Fugs squack squad members November 20, 1968.”

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Flyer, printed at the newly opened Peace Eye Bookstore, for possibly the first demonstration to call for the legalization of marijuana, December 27, 1964.

Ed Sanders and Allen Ginsberg decided to form LeMar (Committee to Legalize Marijuana). Peace Eye served as LeMar’s headquarters. One of their first activities was a “Marihuana March” around Tomkins Square Park on December 27, 1964, that called for the legalization of marijuana as well as the freeing of all prisoners. Among others, LeMar proved to be an inspiration to John Sinclair in Detroit and d.a. levy in Cleveland.

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Ed Sanders, flyer for the Peace Eye, 1968. Written and printed by Sanders at Peace Eye.

“The Peace Eye Bookstore / where surly children of darkness, / genitals smeared with Rhinocerous vomit, / silently exult, reading / the obituaries of bankers and / wheat future speculators / in the N.Y. Times.”

 

LeMar press release, August 10, 1965.

“Federal narcotics agents attempt to force defendant to set up entrapment of internationally famous poet Allen Ginsberg,”

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Peace Eye Bookstore Catalog, 1968.

 

Allen Ginsberg browsing the shelves of the Peace Eye Bookstore, ca. 1966.

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Invitation to attend Ed Sanders’ obscenity trial, March 20, 1967. Designed and printed by Ed Sanders at Peace Eye.

“It seemed as if the trial would occur on March 26, so I sent out a press release and mailing to friends and supporters. I listed what some of the “evidence” of smut against me might be. To my chagrin, after my expert witnesses (such as John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch) and a bunch of friends showed up, the trial was postponed.”

Donations for Sanders’ defense came from many including Norman Holmes Pearson, Frank O’Hara, George Plimpton, John Ashbery, and d.a. levy. Allen Ginsberg did a midnight benefit poetry reading in Los Angeles and Joe Brainard sent six ink drawings.

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Flyer for the Peace Eye grand reopening and Victory Party, June 27, 1967.

Sanders was acquitted of all of the obscenity charges with the aid of the ACLU. The acquittal was followed by a Peace Eye Victory Party featuring a gallery exhibition of “literary relics & ejaculats from the Lower East Side,” and “the entire outspew of the Fuck You/ press, and the entire 13 issues of Fuck You/ A Magazine of the Arts, also several of Allen Ginsberg’s autographed cold cream jars fresh from sensual spurt scenes.”

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