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ART KUNKIN, FOUNDER

STEVEN M. FINGER, PUBLISHER

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Author: Steven M. Finger, Publisher & Editor, Los Angeles Free Press (page 1 of 45)

Do We Really Want To Be Underground? By Art Kunkin.


Here, from the Los Angeles Free Press Issue of 50 years ago (6/26/1969), are Art Kunkin’s thoughts about the ‘present’ role of the paper. Had things moved along, sufficiently, in its past 5 years, or was a change needed?

Next week, 50 years after this expression of Art’s thoughts, I’ll add my own, right here. Hope to see you then.

“Read the New Obscenity Laws” – NOW You’re ‘FUCT’!


And it’s not just me saying it.

It was the Supreme Court, too… fully and completely overstepping the intention of these 2 50-year-old bills from the California legislature.  Is there no decency? Or, at least, any winning argument against the spewing of indecent language or the flashing of titillating images ?  Nope, not anymore, for sure.

Why? Partially because, as our Reporter said 50 years ago (yes, this IS our *50-Year Throwback to an LA FP Issue of exactly 50 years ago), you can’t impose decades-old standards on a present-time individual, they have evolved…. maybe just because other strictures loosened (as when liquor ads were on late-night TV, then prime-time series actors could drink – heck, there was even a bar where everyone knew your name – and soon beer commercials were the best part of the afternoon’s Superbowl). Or, just maybe, people actually did evolve, and came to understand that a larger picture was a better picture, and purposefully sought a wider view – not simply satisfied that barriers were being put aside at the pace of some commercial interest.

Whichever the case, anti-smut laws back then compromised the 1st Amendment, and today’s ruling makes it even more clear that that’s just not OK. And, just to be extra clear,

But wait… in this ages-old article a key point was that the major concern was ‘minors’ – and isn’t a society to stand for the protection of their younguns? Seriously, what is the consequence – beyond  the positive experience of enjoying the 1st Amendment, in this widened and more inclusive scope – when our youngest of our young see what they think is our blatant use of a naughty word?  (Which, btw FUCT is not – it is an acronym for Friends U Can’t Trust  – but, yeah, if it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s probably… a duck).  And, too, aren’t we all a bit compromised because there’s no place left to turn – no longer is it as easy as clicking the remote to erase the picture.  Is it?

Bottom line – 50 years ago, we (the LA FP) were saying smut was entitled to its space. that, Constitutionally, it had a place.  The F-word became ubiquitous, and this ruling inevitable. So now… do we hope for another evolution?  One where Friends U Can Trust maintain a civility that they aren’t legally bound to, but, in the greater interest of a respectful society, do?  Personally, I hope so. (And you?)

And now to that ‘*’ right by our mention that this is one of our 50-Year Throwbacks. To be clear, this is the feature wherein we find an article from that long ago Issue that, remarkably, is not far off from a contemporary concern.

That said, we have another then-published point of view.  It’s not about a contemporary news item but, instead, about the contemporary news itself. It was the written response to The Bulletin of the American Society of Editors’ (BASE) question of “Do We Really Want To Be Underground?”.

However, Art Kunkin, the then Publisher, the Chief Editor, and Founder himself, instead, answered their real question… “How can your ‘underground’ newspaper possibly fit with our goals?”
Surely, Art’s answer was not what they had expected – but that was the genius of the man.

As it turned out, after 5 years of existence because of an objective to provide a more direct connection with the community, HIS paper WAS the more direct connection to the community – and, in terms of growth,  IN FACT, THE LEADING newspaper!

Those OTHER papers hadn’t kept abreast of the changes in their readers’ ‘heads’ – had not catered to that new consciousness… where the LA FP had; the BASE’s focus should not have been on how the LAFP might fit in with their objectives but, rather, how they might fit in with its.

Along with his vision of what the LA FP was meant to be – the article is a read that is contrary to the thoughts of many then, and still now (i.e. that the paper was NOT to be partisan)- it’s principles were the very future of journalism. IN FACT, because of them, his ‘underground’ newspaper had 1. a PAID Subscriber base of about 90,000(!) – which made it one of the largest weekly community newspapers in the entire Country 2. truly local community news that was the gist of each Issue, in step with his grasp of the ‘new’ readers, a bunch whose sensibilities and lifestyle was different than the other papers’ diminishing homogeneous group to whom they were still, and solely, ‘communicating’, and 3. the LA FP was building a reputation for integrity while other papers could hardly be in the same room with the word; we always put out our real opinion as ‘commercial interests’ weren’t our guiding force. 4th: We welcomed the thoughts of all of our Readers, regardless of how they viewed the issues.

When, today, exactly 50 years after we first published it, you read Art’s article, you’ll see how not just newspapers but media outlets of all sorts have, at last, caught up to his thinking – to their greater benefit. And, too, if they are not making the strides his paper did, where they are lacking.

In sum, he did address and answer the question – in 1969 – of “Do We Want To Be Underground?”, though it was un-expectedly affirmative as the BASE neither fully understood what an underground newspaper was, nor the reasons it would succeed.

This week, read it, and find out why LA FP did succeed. As the article is both about the LA FP itself, and by Art, rather than putting those pages in this Throwback Thursday section, they are in our Special Features section… HERE.


And, now, here’s one of several articles on LAST week’s Historic Music Festival – the Devonshire Downs’ Newport Pop Festival. It’s in THIS Issue, rather than in the previous one because… well… in 1969 ‘live streaming’ just wasn’t a thing, network news wasn’t about to spend time giving it its due, and we – the purveyor of real and hip news – regularly published but once a week. (And as that last note sounds tiny, please remember our progress noted above.)

So, how can YOU get an even better look – on this 50th Anniversary of the Devonshire Downs Newport Pop Festival – at the Festival itself? Well, about 4 years ago, on our FB LAFPMusic Page, we ran one of our ‘LIVE’ Concerts – a feature that we will soon be bringing back – for THIS Festival. Here’s that almost lost-to-history re-telling of the ‘event’ – enjoy it as if you were there, BY SCROLLING UP FROM HERE.

We’ll wrap with what’s up for ‘tonight’ (yup, 50 years ago on the dot)…

More on this is, naturally, also on our FB LAFPMusic Page – https://www.facebook.com/LAFPmusic/
Pls have a look and a listen – yes, we know they’re not the Jo Bros, but they, too, made it to TV. (And, from there, went onto Chilliwack.)

Hope you enjoy all of the links given above 🙂

I look forward to seeing you again next Thursday!

Come Together, and Give Peace A Chance, Too.


What’s ‘today’s’ 50-Year-old Issue – here featuring ‘The Bed-In’ in Montreal – have to do with our current 2019 reality? It’s a Double-Header ~ all wrapped up in those 2 song titles of this Throwback Thursday. (Ah… you hadn’t noticed?) And, I’ll say, too, that John Lennon is our central figure… as he wrote both of them.

First, I think it’s a given as to why “Give Peace a Chance” is still relevant – since it was first penned, it’s been a half-century of war without cessation. And, yet, the news of the day is that our own Administration is upping the ante – it’s fighting hard  to sell arms – 8 Billion+, as a matter of fact – with the newly raised old argument of ‘maintaining the ‘Balance of Power’ in order to prevent war’.

And, oh, yes… once the Executive Branch slaps Congress aside, it will need to (again, just like in the good old days) help out all those other countries we just put at a disadvantage. But, hey, it makes those cash registers ring, doesn’t it, Mr. Trump?
Pardon me for a moment, and let me slip in this fun fact:  in the 130 or so of these 50-Year-old Throwback Thursday Issues I’ve written since the 2016 Inauguration, I’ve not ever — not even once –  typed in that person’s name into this feature.  Does that seem odd?

Or not any more odd than the fact that Give Peace A Chance, recorded in early June ’69, was an undeniable anti-war anthem of immense popularity (hot on the Billboard Hot 100 when released in early July, sung that November by 500,000+ demonstrators on the Vietnam Memorial Day, rechartering in ’81, and making it to #1 with a Yoko Ono vocal in 2008) – ALL without ever saying that ugly 3-letter word.

Yeah, I, too, thought and did get away without pointing to the obvious  – but now it seems that not naming he who should be nameless is, essentially, pointless.  And maybe even dangerous, in that it’s important that we all recognize that this is not America’s native orientation, this is Trump’s. And it is he who has to be tossed before America is forced, by him, to take a step too far.

So let that song’s mainline hum away in your head and keep you on track,.  Let’s hope it keeps us all on track.

As to that other song – well, hey, it’s too much fun to miss – so I’m putting in the video link right now.  (You can go to it below.) But, first, how does it possibly relate to anything here, at all??  Well… there’s John – as mentioned previously – and Timothy (the ‘Timmy’ in GPAC) and our own, current, rush by just about everyone to run for Office.  In those days, Leary, too, had it in his head – he thought Cali was ready to have him as its Governor.

With a campaign slogan of “Come Together, join the  party.” he had John write it’s theme song!  So far, so good, right? Not quite.  He still had a date with the judge on another marijuana charge and – unbelievably – wasn’t keen on Lennon’s effort.  He turned it down, but it turned out OK – John eventually got out of bed, re-wrote, and re-purposed it. Now, too, an anthem on it’s own, here’s “Come Together” featuring its un-credited, but actual, co-writer (nope, Paul didn’t have a thing to do with this one). Enjoy – I know you know all the words 🙂

Is that all for this Issue? Heck, no.  After all, it is our largest to date ~ 72 pages divided into 3 parts. There’s our leading section of poli sci insights, this one reporting on the wide-spread Venice drug busts of John Does, a troubling coming-soon-to-us visit by the Subversive Activities Control Board, LACC campus politics, Chicanos busted by informers,  the conundrum of the 2 James earl Ray(s), the Guatemala situation, the winning ways of the GI Mutiny,  and the dangerous development of the women vs. the institution of marriage(!), and our ever-entertaining Letters to the Editor.

A section section is devoted to the art scene – what’s ‘playing’ and what can be thought about it all – by Gene Youngblood, Liza Williams, Paul Schrader, John Wilcock, Harlan Ellison, and others. The 3rd section, is our monthly Living Arts. In this one  you could find book reviews (i.e. Die Nigger Die by Rap Brown, reviewed by Earl Ofari, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution by John Womack, reviewed by Alex Apostolides, and many more by other writers you might not have thought worked for the LA Free Press), an article on the LA radio market, poetry, interviews with or pieces on artists of all genres (this edition – Ginsberg by Lawrence Lipton, and John Mayall interviewed by John Carpenter).  There’s even a serialization of an un-published book by Edmund Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan!

 

 

 

 

 

In Cold Blood – James Rector – 1944 – 1969


Thursday, May 15th, James Rector was shot to death.

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