Monday, July 26, 2010

Undergound, etc. (for Underground)

Two remarkable underground artists departed the world this month. On July 12, 2010, we said goodbye to both Tuli Kupferberg and Harvey Pekar. (Or did they say goodbye to us? Whichever way it goes, it brings to mind Tuli's touching lament, Where Is My Wandering Jew?, which he performs on The Fugs Final CD, Part 1.) Kupferberg was a left-wing activist author and founding member of the "satirical rock band" known as the Fugs. (As well as a defining one: in 1964, he named the fledgling group a euphemism for the F-word, lifting it from Norman Mailer's best-seller, The Naked and the Dead.) Pekar, for his part, was a left-wing activist cartoonist and conflicted file clerk from Cleveland, Ohio, as well as being the subject of a 2003 docudrama starring Paul Giamatti. Equally memorably, he once managed to get himself booted off, and banned from, the David Letterman show. Undergound was found nine times in OhioLINK, Undergroud twice, and Undergrond once. I was heartened, however, to find no typos there for either of these two gentle men's names. And not too surprised, either, as I'm certain they have a lot of fans out there among discerning catalogers. Fandom often inspires us to take special care when spelling our idols' names. By doing so with Pekar and Kupferberg, we can help raise awareness of (and access to) their stubbornly idiosyncratic, but spiritually connected, cultural legacies. Rest in kooky, cranky peace, Harvey and Tuli.

(Harvey Pekar, March 23, 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

No comments: