[22.10.06] [Andrew Gallix]
The Village Voice has an interesting review (by Ed Halter) of Brandon Stosuy's Up is Up But So is Down:
"The underground may be dead, replaced by innumerable pocket-worlds nurtured by niche marketing and the Internet. The old vertical clash of high and low has flipped sideways into a vast horizontal plain of isolated scenes. Yet even as today's post-bohemians float inside our own networked ego-spheres, the social phenomenon roughly traceable from William Blake to Kurt Cobain still retains a certain power. ...Some of us like our angels with dirty faces; witness the lovingly reproduced artifacts of Up Is Up But So Is Down: New York's Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992, a comprehensive compendium of below-14th Street literary productions by everyone from Laurie Anderson to Nick Zedd, focusing on the output of small magazines of the era like Koff, Bomb, and Between C and D. 'As a child my favorite books had been about women who entered the convent,' Tama Janowitz writes in 1986's Modern Saint 271, which would become the first chapter of her collection Slaves of New York, in the voice of a boho prostitute character. "They were giving themselves up to a higher cause. But there are no convents for Jewish girls." Lynne Tillman, in transcribed conversation with Gerard Malanga, offers an extension of the thesis: 'Punk is such a Catholic movement.' Amen to that. The era's literature is filled with confessions of sin, abject transgressions, lapses of faith, and the morbidity of flesh. All the sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll recorded here may be a fuck-you-dad reaction to the high-minded hopefulness of their '60s predecessors -- Thurston Moore remarks that the moment 'defined itself by trashing Led Zep, Pink Floyd et al.' -- but as much as punks hated hippies, their common romanticism proves them more alike than not. Cynicism is just optimism turned on its head, replacing a belief in the perfectability of humankind with a certitude that everything sucks. Janowitz styled her 'saints' after Kerouac's, no longer on the road but stuck in shit-hole apartments in drop-dead New York, and Richard Kostelanetz exhorts readers to 'find epiphanies anywhere, even in garbage cans.' The road to excess may lead to the palace of wisdom, even if in 1979 you'd get mugged en route.
The predominant mode is diaristic reportage, frequently semi-fictionalized. The scene generated first-rate raconteurs -- Dennis Cooper, Eileen Myles, Cookie Mueller, and David Wojnarowicz, to name only some of the best-known included here -- whose stories meld dry satire with heart-churningly desperate transmissions of damaged humanity. ...But these writers aren't just letting it blurt. There's a formal elegance and inventiveness to many works, epitomized by Holly Anderson's marvelously concrete 'Color Stories,' told inside hand-drawn grids, each letter rub-transferred into its own square, like incomplete individuals filed inside tenement apartments. ...The trash-pickers, drug fiends, and unsuccored polysexual sensualists of Up Is Up embraced the darker side of the bohemian legacy..."
There's an interview (from 2005) with East Village Eye founder Leonard Abrams in Gothamist:
"First issue came out in May 1979. I was just feeling my way through it. I had worked for a community paper and the punk scene was morphing itself into the new wave scene and all these people were coming out of the woodwork -- it was a great time. There were performances, there was art, there was rock and roll and people were just showing up and meeting each other. These people who would work together, party together, have sex or maybe be at each other's throats were all just getting together and forming the East Village scene. ...The art kids started imitating the punk rockers. The art bands arrived and I just thought that this was definitely a scene that needs a paper".