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Fugging Around

At 86, blind and housebound, Fugs frontman Tuli Kupferberg is still dispensing crass words of wisdom

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The Fugs in 1967, from left: Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg, and Ken Weaver.(Courtesy of Ed Sanders)

In 1965, two beat poets on New York’s Lower East Side, Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders, put together a band called the Fugs. (The name is a euphemism that means what it sounds like and was borrowed from Norman Mailer’s novel The Naked and the Dead.) The Fugs have been recording and performing irreverent rants about sex, drugs, and war since then, often with Kupferberg delivering deadpan lyrics in what the New York Times recently described as his “rabbinical monotone.” The group’s latest album, Be Free, comes out this week, though Kupferberg has been confined to his home since the fall, after two strokes left him virtually blind. He continues to make himself heard by way of daily dispatches, which he calls “perverbs,” posted on YouTube. He doesn’t consider himself religious, but his songs, poems, and missives are steeped in the Yiddish culture he grew up in. Reporter Jon Kalish profiled the performer—who, be warned, uses some explicit language. [Running time: 11:25.]

 
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georgianna says:

He can’t be 86! I had such a crush on him in the ’60s. “Mrs. Tuli Kupferberg…” I’m very glad to hear he’s still carrying on.

g

jon ..just wonderfull as usual..best steve ben

And the opening line of the Fugs’ song, “Advice From the Fugs” is, “Never forget that Sholom Aleichem lost all his inherited money in the stock market.” Jewish references came naturally to Tuli and the Fugs and they did not edit out those references to be a little cooler.

groove68 says:

Watch Tuli Kupferberg in the 80s on Paper Tiger TV

http://www.realeyz.tv/en/search.php?search=kupferberg

Even die-hard atheists might agree that God blessed, blesses and bless Tuli.

Nancy Cain says:

Hey Jon–wonderful piece!

Great piece, thanks!

Peter Zanger says:

Jon–Fan-fuggin’-tastic! Thanks.

Thelma Blitz says:

You can see an illustrated montage I made of this podcast with rare Tuli photos, cartoons, and pictures of the people Jon mentions, which I am told is very helpful to people who speak languages other than English. For the rest, it should enhance the experience of hearing Jon’s piece. Too bad that Tuli can’t appreciate it, but those of us who still have the gift of sight should check out the video:

http://vimeo.com/9716151

(also on YouTube and DailyMotion)

Vivien Orbach-Smith says:

Once a fug, forever a fug – how great is that? Kalish, your work cuts to the heart.

A heart of Judaism that should be better known – the desire for peace for all!

Rosebudz says:

Man what a farrrrout piece of reportage with a Jewish touch— dig it!!! thanx for it!

Charles Soberman says:

I was introduced to the Fugs in 1966 by my roommate from NYC. We wore out the grooves (remember them?) on our record. Hard to believe Kupferberg is 86, but no harder to believe than that I am 61!

Yankeedog says:

Kupferberg had a listed phone number and was exceedingly polite to a sixteen-year-old moron who called him up one afternoon in 1967, and said moron is sad to hear of his passing…

Ron Wolf says:

Shocked and saddened. My regards and and consolation to Ed and all survivors. Tuli and Ed will always be engraved in my acid stained mind as a true prophets in every sense of the word. Will always remember those “under thirty days” on Avenue A, the second Peace Eye next to Park Center Hardware run by another good friend Joe Scime who finally found a wife at sixty nine! At 65 more than ever it feels so lonesome in the morning. Tuli, you will be missed.

Wow, awesome blog format! How lengthy have you been running a blog for? you made blogging look easy. The whole look of your site is fantastic, as smartly as the content material!

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Fugging Around

At 86, blind and housebound, Fugs frontman Tuli Kupferberg is still dispensing crass words of wisdom

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