Rag Radio: Beatnik Man of Letters and Counterculture Icon Ed Sanders of The Fugs

With a little help from his friends, the Yippies, Ed Sanders tried to exorcise the Pentagon.


According to NPR, counterculture icon and acclaimed man of letters Ed Sanders considers himself “the only beatnik who can yodel.” Ed yodels on this show and joins Thorne Dreyer in a highly entertaining discussion of his rich history.

Ed Sanders is a poet, singer, author, publisher, environmentalist, and political activist. He wrote the best-selling book, The Family, about the Charles Manson murders, and his biography of Sharon Tate will be released this fall. Sanders has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and an American Book Award. And he invents musical instruments, including the Talking Tie, featuring a keyboard down the front of a clip-on necktie.

Ben Ratliff of The New York Times says that Ed Sanders was “present at the counterculture’s creation.” He was a founder of the Yippies and, along with Tuli Kupferberg, he started the legendary satirical folk-rock band, The Fugs, much of whose work we can’t play on the radio. He published an influential avant-garde journal whose title we can’t say on the radio. He founded the Investigative Poetry movement. He helped start the East Village Other. He founded the legendary Peace Eye Bookstore in the Lower East Side where folks like William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg hung out.

With a little help from his friends Ed Sanders tried to exorcise the Pentagon. He wrote his first book, Poem from Jail, on toilet paper after he was busted for attempting to swim out in the New London, Connecticut harbor to board a nuclear submarine in protest. Sanders was active in what was called the “Mimeograph Revolution.” And now he says he’s determined “to go out in a blaze of leaflets.”

Rag Radio is produced in the studios of KOOP 91.7-FM, an all-volunteer, cooperatively-run community radio station in Austin, Texas, in association with The Rag Blog and the New Journalism Project, a Texas 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The syndicated show is broadcast (and streamed) live Fridays, 2-3 p.m. (CDT) on KOOP, and is later rebroadcast and streamed on WFTE-FM in Mt. Cobb and Scranton, PA., on Houston Pacifica’s KPFT HD-3 90.1, and by KKRN, 88.5-FM in Round Mountain, CA — and as a featured podcast at VT. Contact: [email protected].



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