Wednesday, August 23, 2017


In the 1950s when The Village Voice began publishing, I was a Jersey teenager spending any free night I had in Greenwich Village, listening to jazz or playing it, making friends with the Villagers who could tolerate a little jive jitterbug "White Negro" as Normal Mailer's famous essay by that name branded people like I was a junior version of at the time.

I felt like no matter where my actual home was in the following decades that my heart was back in the Greenwich Village of the 1950s. In 1962 when I joined the military I took out a subscription to The Village Voice so I could keep in touch with the scene, and I bought the brand new collection of Voice writing and cartoons (Jules Feiffer!)—THE VILLAGE VOICE READER—and still have it, with my name and serial number stamped on it as they had us do to all our property, as limited as it was.

When I got out of the service in 1966, my wife and I were given an apartment in Brooklyn which my patron (!) got for us while I was supposedly writing "The Great American Novel"—which was a thing in the mid-20th Century. Looking to get our own place I was part of the line, usually first, at the Sheridan Square newsstand when the new issue of The Voice arrived with the new rental listings for The Village. (We had to turn down a parquet wooden floor street level apartment off Sheridan Square because at a hundred and twenty-five dollars a month it was way above what we could afford!)

In 1975 when I returned to live in Manhattan after years in DC and elsewhere, I began writing for The Village Voice as a book reviewer, focused on small press books. In the early 1980s when they had an actual separate book review section I had the cover review a few times and was able to introduce folks to favorite poets and writers.

One of the highlights of my life as a poet was when I did a poetry reading with John Ashbery at the fairly new Ear Inn and for the announcement in the picks of the week centerfold feature after my name they just said: "who needs no introduction here." Man did that feel like I'd arrive.

Over the years the paper changed in ways that weren't all that appealing to me, but nonetheless, I will sorely miss the print editions of The Voice and am grateful that I got to be a part of its history, as it certainly has been part of mine.

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