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Monday, January 26, 2015

Primer On Ferlins And Fugs In Life Encountered

Just learned how to make webcam go again. Now need theme for post. This requires I get into my box of old toys and vinyl record albums .

Allen Ginsberg and I listened to Fugs the same year --he, far more famously than I. The year was 1966.


I liked that year. I looked like this:
I was a student. Minimum wage was $1.45 an hour. I had my first play performed. I had scads of friends.

Allen Ginsberg looked like this:

Allen Ginsberg was a great poet. You could work an hour or so and make enough money to buy his book at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. City Lights Bookstore is owned by Mr. Ferlinghetti --he is a great poet too. Mr. Ferlinghetti had a press on the premises on which he published many other great poets. He has scads of friends. He is 95 years old now.

I don't know if he was friends with the other Ferlin, who sang ballads and rockabilly and recited folk poetry. Ferlin Husky passed away four years ago at age 86, but in 1966 I lived in a rural ranching town and my two favorite Ferlins were in their primes. However, the Fugs to which Mr. Ginsberg referred in Airplane Dreams were a musical group that incorporated great poetry into their songs. They looked like this:
I bought this album at Thrifty Drug Store in 1966. It is their third or fourth album and is called "The Fugs First Album", Its songs are listed on the back:

They weren't a very melodious group but their songs often contained lyrics from Wm. Blake and Algernon Chas. Swinburne, both very great poets. This bring us to the word, fug. "Fug" was often used by American writers as a marginally acceptable homonym for another coitional slang word that was not permitted by censors.

In 1966, I had read many stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle --a great writer of historical, medical, detective and science fiction. He sometimes described the atmospheric result of Sherlock Holmes's nicotinic meditations as a "thick fug of tobacco smoke in our sitting room" which Dr. Watson treated by throwing open the windows at 221 B Baker St.
The British word would recur to me later, after I left the little rural ranching town to seek my fortune. I had scads of friends and they would invite me to parties in the big city. In the late '60s, these parties usually took the form of a dense fug of smoke with arms and legs sticking out of it. I would bring my favorite record album in with me and hand it to some of the arms. Soon I would hear it going on the stereo and voices in the fug would react to The Fugs. "Oh wow," they would say. "Oh wow."  


22 comments:

  1. Nice to see those historic artifacts.
    Your post reminded me of coffee shop poetry readings where I heard a reading of Coney Island of the Mind for the first time.

    Hearing the Fugs today would likely draw the same reaction, "Oh wow!"

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    1. Thanks, Tom. It was fun to find those artifacts up in shelves and boxes to show the webcam. I too was impressed by Coney Island of the Mind and there are tableaux, like Christ climbing down a bare tree, that have never left me --even though my copy moved out with a roommate in 1969.

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  2. I now will have to check out the Fugs... In 1966, my family migrated back to North Carolina after a three year exile in Virginia and I was fearful I would never again see Denise. I was nine years old.

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    1. On the records, like cut 3 on side B, Fugs had to yodel thru the words censors disapproved of at the time. Might hear more comprehensive versions on Youtube live performances. Also, they couldn't yodel very well.

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  3. I see the Fugs have their Final CD now released but they've hedged their bets by labeling it "Part 1"

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    1. Fugs have never been nervous about labeling their albums in proper sequence. Probably shouldn't expect them to start now.

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  4. I'm all packed for my trip and just sitting here with a nice cuppa tea and have a little time to pay you a visit.
    So glad I visited as I got to see that handsome face of yours 'back in 1966' you are still handsome today and I remember those "Fugs"

    Nice to go 'back in time' with you!
    Thanks for sharing.

    See you on my return :)

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    1. Margie, you have good reason to be excited. What a treat! Thanks for sharing tea time with me and calling me handsome. That's why I look forward to tomorrow --because I just get better-looking every day!

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  5. Now, I was never introduced to The Fugs in my youth, but I certainly was an admirer of Alan Ginsburg and people of the like. This annoyed my parents, which, I think was the point of it.

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    1. Maybe that's one of the most admirable qualities of artistic revolutionaries and innovators, Arleen. They show young people that social and cultural change can be positive, even fun --that learning and humor can save lives.

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  6. Good lord, I haven't thought of the Fugs in years, or of Ed Sanders. Less well known to many, he probably had more to do with the beginning of the 'counter-culture' than other, more well known sorts like Ginsburg.
    Spent many hours in City Lights, took my girls there from an early age. North Beach was quite a place back when I first visited in '66.
    Thanks for your messages of the last couple months, they were appreciated.

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    1. That corner hasn't changed too much. Co-Existence Bagel Shop was still serving last I checked and Sofia Coppola had co-opted that copper-colored triangle bldg. across from the book store for a production hub. And it's a privilege to send encouraging messages, Mike --you know I owe my life to guys like you.

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  7. How nice to reminisce about a pleasant time. You must have had fun going through your things.

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    1. I did, Emma. Never let anybody persuade you to throw out your toybox. When that special urge to get into stuff strikes, nothing else will do.

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  8. Another fugging brilliant post. And a meander down memory lane.

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    1. Now THERE'S a comment I'll add to my favorites list! Thank you.

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  9. I just found out today that we were both Fugs fans at the same time!

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    1. I'm not surprised, Will. You were the only person I ever saw take a shopping cart over to Thrifty Drug's record section, or need to. But really they had the most comprehensive selection south of Tower (at 16th and Broadway) --in fact, I believe you knew Russ Solomon.

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  10. $1.45 per hour. Wow! It was 4>25 per hour when I entered the work force, and I thought that was a pittance!

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    1. I know, Keith. It doesn't sound like much until I remember a new house cost about $15,000 in 1966. Hmmm, no it still doesn't sound like much.

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  11. Dear Geo., I'm in a hurry, but don't want to let the chance slip away to mention the word "fag" for cigarettes, which is (almost) the new word "forbidden" by political correct people - as "fu.. - eh, fugs" in those days.

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    1. Dear Brigitta,
      Yes, those words are certainly persistent. I've never understood most of
      colloquial semantics --especially where unkind-- and confess myself baffled by it. In your work among different languages, it must present a challenging puzzle.

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