Ed Sanders

Born 1939; cofounder, with Tuli Kupferberg, of the rock group the Fugs, author of the nonfiction book about the cult around Charles Manson, The Family, and a poet.

sandersIn this excerpt from Sanders’s 2011 memoir, he describes the forces that motivated him to move into Westbeth, after the adventure and openness of the counterculture had crested.

The streets seemed more and more dangerous . . . Through the poet Joel Oppenheimer we learned of a brand new loft building for artists and the creative located in the West Village—it was called Westbeth. The National Endowment for the Arts had given a matching grant back in ’68 to the J.M. Kaplan Fund to set up the nonprofit Westbeth Corporation, which purchased the old Bell Telephone Laboratories on West Street for renovation into artists’ studio/living quarters. There were some 384 units, ranging from efficiencies to three-bedroom apartments, and ample room for studio space in the basement, plus exhibition galleries. The building was a product of the Great Society of the 1960s!

Westbeth was about to open in early 1970, and I learned that there were a few apartments still available, at a very modest rental, which was to be adjusted according to income [sic]. I pulled strings and landed us a new pad—a beautiful duplex for $186 a month! Peter Orlovsky helped us move our stuff from Avenue A to the West Village.

I decided to close the Peace Eye Bookstore. . . . in the end I just gave away thousands of books. . . . I brought Spain Rodriguez’s Peace Eye sign to our new loft at Westbeth. (I still have it, in our garage in Woodstock, forty years later.)

—from Fug You: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, the Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side, by Ed Sanders

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