Abbie Hoffman was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1936 into a Jewish middle-class family. Hoffman already won a reputation as a prankster and troublemaker at high school, from which was expelled in his second year. His first arrest followed at the age of 17. After his expulsion from high school, Hoffman attended Worcester Academy, from which he graduated in 1955. He enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley where he studied psychology and the Marxist theories of Herbert Marcuse. Hoffman became a convinced anti-war and civil rights activist and was influenced by the anti-authoritarian anarchist San Francico Diggers and the Dutch Provos before becoming a founding member of the Yippie (Youth International Party) movement in 1967. From that time Hoffman developed into a high-profile activist and prankster and was one of the Chicago Seven, who were charged by the federal government with conspiracy and rioting during the 1968 Democratic Convention. At Woodstock in 1969, Hoffman was kicked off the stage by Pete Townshend when he tried to disrupt The Who’s performance to protest against John Sinclair’s imprisonment. Hoffman was arrested several times and on various charges in the 1970s and 1980s before committing suicide in 1989, aged 52.
Abbie Hoffman’s countercultural and subversive Steal this Book was no doubt inspired by the 1968 Klau mich by Rainer Langhans & Fritz Teufel. Steal this Book was rejected by at least 30 publishers before he published it through his own Pirate Editions in 1971. Once it had been printed, it turned into a bestseller among young people and saw many reprints. The condition of this copy of the first 1971 printing is fair: the cover is dog-eared and the spine shows wear. Inside there is an ownership mark and a library number.
Provo was a Dutch countercultural movement that was mainly active in Amsterdam in the mid-1960s. Evolved from Robert Jasper Grootveld’s anti-smoking happenings in the Dutch capital and the anti-nuclear and anarchist movement (in the persons of Roel van Duyn and Rob Stolk), Provo was founded in 1965. Only active until 1967, the movement opened up new perspectives, developed alternative ways of living, raised environmental awareness, made inventions, and exposed the establishment as rigid, colonial and outdated through playful and humorous provocations. Provo combined subversion with an irrepressible DIY mentality and proved a powerful cocktail that changed Dutch society for good.
The first of fifteen mimeographed Provo pamphlets appeared on 12 July 1965. Provo #10 was published on 30 June 1966 and it is from this issue that a copy has been made available from the Sea Urchin archives. The condition of this copy is very good with only minor staining and wear.
Harold Norse was born Harold Rosen to a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant in 1916. After having graduated from Brooklyn College he became close friends with W.H. Auden – after the latter’s move to the USA in 1939 – and William Carlos Williams, who helped publish Norse’s experimental and groundbreaking poems. In the early 1950s Norse got his master’s degree in literature from New York University and saw his first poetry compilation published. Norse lived in Italy in the second half of the 1950s and was a resident of the Beat Hotel in Paris with William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso from 1959 to 1963. After having moved to the Greek island of Hydra and Tangier, Norse returned to the US in 1968. The last 35 years of his life were spent in the Mission District of San Francisco. With his ‘Carnivorous Saint: Gay Poems 1941-1976’ and publications in magazines such as Gay Sunshine, Norse established himself as one of the leading gay liberation poets of his era.
Harold Norse’s poetry compilation Karma Circuit was first published in 1967 by Nothing Doing in London. The book compiles poems from Norse’s years in Italy, Paris, Athens and Hydra and contains photos of vibratory phenomena by Hans Peter Widmer. This copy of Karma Circuit has been signed by Harold Norse but is not one of the 50 numbered and signed copies that were issued at the time. The condition is very good except for a small tear in the mylar dustjacket.
Martin Disler was a self-taught Swiss painter, draughtsman, sculptor, author and publisher. Born into a family of gardeners in the canton of Solothurn in 1949, Disler attended a boarding school in Stans, from which he was expelled in 1968. The following year he had his first studio in Solothun together with the painter Agnes Barmettler, whom he married in 1970. After having travelled extensively to Italy, France and the USA with his friend and colleague Rolf Winnewisser, he divorced Agnes Barmettler in 1977 and moved to Zürich. His solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel in 1980 led to an international breakthrough. Acclaimed exhibitions of his work – which was associated with the neo-expressionist Neue Wilde – followed in Italy, Switzerland, France, the USA and The Netherlands. In 1980 Disler met his future wife Irene Grundel and the next year he founded, together with the painter Dieter Hall, his short-lived publishing house Nachbar der Welt. After having lived and worked in the Dutch town of Harlingen for one year and having been included in Rudi Fuchs’s Documenta 7 in 1982, he relocated to Paris in 1983. In 1985 Disler and his wife Irene Grundel returned to his native Switzerland, where he died of a stroke in 1996, aged 47.
Disler’s richly illustrated catalogue Essen/Paris 1985 was jointly published by Museum Folkwang Essen and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. This particular copy is in very good condition without ownership marks or other inscriptions. The cover has two small stains on the back and the spine is slightly discoloured. With German and French texts by Zdenek Felix, Suzanne Pagé, Démosthènes Davvetas, this catalogue presents the reader with an extensive overview of a vital period in Disler’s work.
Smegma came into being in Pasadena, California on November 23, 1973, when several friends decided to experiment with music, despite having no formal artistic or musical training. They developed a ‘band without musicians’ concept, only allowing real musicians to join in when special parts were required. In the course of time Smegma (which was a perversion of the band name Magma) developed a so-called ‘primitive suburban folk’ approach to music. While being aware of the dominant music scene of LA of the period (Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Wild Man Fischer), those musicians only remained a distant influence. John Cage, Harry Partch, Eric Dolphy, Sun Ra, Buckminster Fuller and many other great minds of previous generations were more influential than their contemporaries.
Most Smegma members moved to Portland, Oregon in 1975 while at the same time becoming involved with the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS), to which they contributed LPs, cassettes and visual art. Smegma’s approach of playfully paying tribute to the great music of earlier generations, deconstructing contemporary music and pushing music into new territories has always generated a small but expert number of admirerers from all over the world.
Moloko Plus has now released the beautiful Smegma CD Name of the Frame, which contains recordings from the late 1970s and early 1980s plus a long solo recording by Smegma core member Ace Farren Ford from 1974. Artwork by Ace Farren Ford forms the basis of Robert Schalinski’s excellent design of the digipak. All tracks originally recorded by Ju Suk Reet Meate with final editing done in Portland, Oregon in April 2021. Order now →