Wednesday, January 27, 2010

KIPPLE #'s 157, 161, 163 and 166 (fanzines published by Ted Pauls during the year 1969)

You can tell that I'm getting hard up for my fanzine fixes when I have to rely on old outta-nowhere "genzines" that were more or less soapboxes for whatever flavor of the month ideals the contributors wanted to espouse! Right now I so hungry for any classic fanzine energies to tingle my nerve endings to the point where I feel like some skid row denizen guzzling antifreeze or straining shoe polish through some old nylons, but get my kicks I will and oddly enough I can still find 'em in the most outta the way placess possible! Like take this publication entitled KIPPLE,a political/cultural scene fanzine that, judging from the impressive numerical run, must have been cranked out a number of times a month by this Ted Pauls guy. Pauls used KIPPLE as a vehicle to voice a variety of concerns/ideals/beefs that he had re. the World Situation during the late-sixties, and the KIPPLEs I've read remind me of many of the lower budgeted fanzines of the day whether they be of a Sci Fi, comic strip/book or even rock orientation only without some nice photos or perhaps a cutting enough cartoon or even some reproduction from an art book used to fill up space. Kinda plain in fact, certainly not eye candy enough for the fanzine gobblers of the sixties/seventies and come to think of it rather dry on the insides as well.

I mean yeah, the concept of a fanzine like the concept of a weblog is to get some ideas out into that public of yours as fast as humanly possible, but some of the ideas spouted off in KIPPLE might have been better had they been left in the fridge to gel a bit. Maybe it's because I'm way out of the target area that Pauls and his contributors are aiming at, but some of the flotsam to be found in KIPPLE brings forth a whole number of questions regarding the political/youth situation of the day like...was it really this boring? One contributor, a John Boardman, has his own running column entitled "Matter In Motion" which details his own personal spur-of-the-moment opines regarding everything from the Vatican and Galileo (which was an issue that has always been akin to whipping that dead horse until it could be sold for ground round at Kroger's) to an admittedly interesting assessment of Henry Kissinger as an "Establishment Liberal", but even if he does make the bright observation here or there the end results are quite staid and perhaps downright sophisticated in their own strange way. Nothing I would particularly pick up a fanzine for, even if many of the ones I've read these past thirty years have come off quite the superficial crudzine of legend and lore.

So why did I snatch up copies of this long-forgotten read? Certainly not for the observations of political or societal development as it was seen through people I assume came up out of science fiction or comic book fandom. As you might guess it was because of my forever undying devotion to rock & roll fandom, a glimmer of which can be found in these pages thanks to a rock column entitled "The Fnork Speaks" which was penned by none other than longtime fandom standby Jay Kinney. Those of you who have been following Kinney's career from comic book fanzine contributor and publisher (NOPE!) up through his underground comix work throughout the seventies until his present day stint as the editor of GNOSIS should remember him a very talented individual with regards not only to his artistry but his writing on a vast array of comic-oriented subjects (such as his positive assessment of the old PANIC comic book in the pages of ODD). Along with Bill Griffith, a man who shares some stylistic and intellectual traits, Kinney was one of the top artists of the original underground comix era and his various cartoons dealing with everything from rock & roll groupies to the Detroit White Panther scene ("Armed Love" from YOUNG LUST) to punk rock ("Anarchie" in ANARCHY) proves that the man was just as tuned into rock & roll as a form of bared-wire intensity as he was of comics as a means to express pretty much the same set of anarchistic/nihilistic values (for wont of a better term I guess!).

Some of Kinney's musings are par for the course 1969 rock observations such as his take on the latterday Yardbirds and their relationship to Led Zeppelin (a group he expresses great fervor for) or how THE WHITE ALBUM was doing everything from surpassing the Fugs and the Students for a Democratic Society with its unabashed revolutionary/social upheaval tone. That's all well and good I guess, but what really surprised me about Kinney's "Fnork" column was one that, now get this, appeared in the June 12 1969 issue highlighting his opinions regarding the Velvet Underground. This particular piece, given the low-budget fanzine nature of this publication, was naturally missed by just about everybody who was on the lookout for interesting writings on the group, and undoubtedly that list includes the various writers and editors of the recent Velvets histories who come to think of it left out willingly or not a lot of pertinent information regarding the Velvet Underground's influence in the late-sixties. Not that they'd particularly care to reprint any of Kinney's ideas and projections regarding the band but, it woulda been nice if they at least said something positive about the guy!

The column begins typically enough as a commentary on the then-hotcha subject of drug references in teenage popular/rock music. Y'know, the big brouhaha that started in '63 when some people found "Puff The Magic Dragon" to be a little too "nudge nudge" for their own sense of propriety. From those humble beginnings Kinney works his way into a discussion of the Velvets who obviously transcended the usual druggie double entendre and anagrams and dove into the hard opiate stuff head first.

As I halfheartedly expected there are no major epiphanies in the piece, but it is sure nice reading something about the Velvet Underground that was written back when they were still alive than to endure the heaps o' goo that have been thrust at them (sometimes by myself!) ever since usually in typically dulcet tones that always belie the group's rough New York street rock image. (This is a trait that unfortunately has even carried on into the group's influence on the vast majority of Velvets acolytes over the past three decades, bands who find the pleasant poppier tones of "Sweet Jane" to their liking but who could never create a monument to the true power of the VU as was heard on "Sweet Sister Ray".) And Kinney, to coin a phrase, "lays it on the line" with just how the Velvets stood with many of the music listening public of the very-late sixties. "The Velvet Underground's thing is smack. Part of their mystique is probably due to everyone's amazement that the group makes the most of its habit and even turns it into strangely compelling songs."

From there Kinney goes on to describe the group's first two albums rather enthusiastically and track-by-track, something which I guess might have taken the fun out of chemistry like Elliot Murphy said but probably lays it down on the line for the readership of KIPPLE whom I'll bet were your typical late-sixties teen/college-aged fandom freaks with more than a few toes dangling in the budding rock fanzine world. These two albums (Kinney had yet to hear the third, though he is aware of how much of a stark change it is from the others) are chronicled in a matter-of-factly way by Kinney and for the most part described positively. I particularly got a chuckle out of his description of "I Heard Her Call My Name" where Kinney wrote that he thought the needle was skipping across the vinyl! (Kinney also draws comparisons between Lou Reed's lead guitar on that track and the fuzz-drive of Blue Cheer.) "If you are looking for a genuine 'underground' experience, give (the) Velvet Underground a try. They are not very delicate, but they do put down some good music." In all, a piece that shows that yet another mover and shaker of the late-sixties (albeit in the comix/fanzine world) was a solid Velvet Underground fan, and one can wonder just what other interesting pieces of Velvets-related "ephemera" there might be lurking in the fanzines and music columns of the late-sixties just waiting to shed more light on my all-time favorite rock & roll group.

Oh, and another little outta-the-way aside on the part of Kinney...in the March 17 1969 issue the esteemed fanzinemongerer even puts in a plug for good friend Greg Shaw's latest endeavor MOJO ENTMOOTER. "This is darned good Rock criticism of the old MOJO NAVIGATOR variety and there is even a picture of Led Zeppelin on the back cover." I'm not sure if this is the same MOJO ENTMOOTER that has Shaw's review of the Deviants' PTOOFF! (probably not since that one came out in '68...this must be the "experimental" second and last issue) but its existence goes to prove that there certainly were more rock fanzines being produced in the late-sixties than any of us would have believed even a few short years ago.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Boy, there's a corner of the 'zine world that was previously unknown to me. Thanks for introducing us to KIPPLE.