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Ed Sanders: The Un-Fuzzy Fug.

Here is a glimpse of a person I have long admired in Beat circles since the late seventies. My first impression was that Ed Sanders was a genuine Beat scholar, which I considered to be an oxymoron. For all his wire-haired antic look, he seemed far too serious to be Beat. I had sent him a piece on Jack Kerouac written for High Times Magazine in which I mentioned that my initial attraction to the Beats came well after college where I was too busy studying Dante. And Ed Sanders had written me back, are you a scholar of Italian? It seemed that he was. And when I said no, I was simply a student of medieval lit, he seemed disappointed.

The years provided further glimpses: Sanders at the twenty-fifth anniversary of On the Road's publication in Boulder, a ten-day celebration where not only attendees imbibed ritualistically but Trungpa Rinpoche swigged sake from the stage as he addressed the enclave, moving his arms in great circles symbolizing OM, universal peace. Next, NYU's Beat Conference, known for its high seriousness and academic rigor, seemed to represent a new phase of Beat appreciation. That is, until the last day when Hunter S. Thompson shared the stage with Sanders, Allen, and company, and whipped out a joint that made the first ten rows inhale in waves as he exhaled. It was to a happy Sanders that he passed that smoke.

Lately the mood has been more somber with the passing of Huncke, Ginsberg, Burroughs in one devastating year. This past fall on December 3rd at St. Mark's Church, a Some of the Dharma celebration had Sanders performing an original composition: "Nature itself, creation itself/Is a vast discriminating mind," he sang. And on May 14 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine he (with Bob Rosenthal) hosted a memorial to Allen Ginsberg which featured Philip Glass, David Dellinger, Patti Smith in a Burroughs T-shirt, Natalie Merchant, Anne Waldman, Eileen Myles, Steven Taylor playing on Allen's harmonium, and fellow Fug Tuli Kupferberg, among others. I was seated up front watching Ed in his too-bright-to-be-tweedy red crewneck and black corduroys and white buffs barely aware of the 2,500 behind us watching on monitors. Ed Sanders led us all in a rousing OM, "I feel it, I feel it, I feel it real bad."

REGINA WEINREICH is a producer/director of the documentary Paul Bowles: The Complete Outsider and author of The Spontaneous Poetics of Jack Kerouac. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, New York Times, Washington Post, Village Voice, Omni, Review of Contemporary Fiction, and elsewhere. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
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Title Annotation:poet, rock musician
Author:Weinreich, Regina
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 1999
Words:447
Previous Article:Ed Sanders and Black Sparrow Press.
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