He was an expert at getting away with not working – and he worked really hard at it.
He was – the iconic New Yorker. The one you wanted to be when you moved here, the one you were afraid of meeting. The one you were glad to meet.
An original East Village bohemian, Kupferberg was in integral component of the ’50s beat scene. He was a poet and a publisher of typewritten magazines. Two great titles of his own writings were “Selected Fruits & Nuts” and “1001 Ways to Live Without Working.”
In fact, he was one of the inspirations for the most famous Beat poem of all, Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” In that poem Ginsberg writes of someone who “jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten.”
The jumper was indeed Kupferberg, although the bridge was the Manhattan not the Brooklyn. A suicide attempt gone wrong, no-one noticed. Kupferberg swam to shore, unharmed, and walked home, took a bath and went to bed.
Luckily, he survived to bring us The Fugs, a gritty, foul-mouthed, anti-war, politically charged, oversexed, drug loving, folk/rock band he started with Ed Sanders in 1964. Kupferberg sang horribly and the Fugs didn’t have a chance in hell. But they influenced thousands.
The Fugs broke up in the late 60’s and reunited in the mid 80’s playing one off shows pretty regularly whenever Kupferberg felt he had something to say, which was pretty regularly.
That is until a stroke curtailed him in 2009.
Despite that setback, Kupferberg had just completed laying tracks for a new album, fittingly titled, “Be Free: The Fugs Final CD (Part Two).”
Be Free, Tuli.