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Book excerpt: The Fugs’ Ed Sanders incites a indie media revolution with his zine ‘Fuck You’

Ed Sanders grew up in western Missouri, in the small farm town of Blue Springs. After briefly attending the University of Missouri, he hitchhiked to the East Coast in 1958 to attend New York University. “I soon was enmeshed in the culture of the Beats,” Sanders recalled in his memoir, Fug You, “as found in Greenwich Village bookstores, in the poetry readings in coffeehouses on MacDougal Street, in New York City art and jazz, and in the milieu of pot and counterculture that was rising.” He also began volunteering at the Catholic Worker, a newspaper founded by activist Dorothy Day that was dedicated to social justice. […]

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Richard Hell’s New York City

Richard Meyers landed on New York City’s Lower East Side in late 1966. Within a few years he had reinvented himself as Richard Hell and transitioned from poetry to punk rock. This blending of art forms was not unusual among the residents of the city’s dilapidated downtown neighborhoods, a topic that he and writer, photographer and actress Lisa Jane Persky will discuss during Making a Scene: A Conversation About Downtown New York City, a free event that I will moderate at the Englert Theatre during the Witching Hour Festival.
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A true history of fake news: Unicorns on the moon

Part two of two. Read part one: A true history of fake news: The many identities of Benjamin Franklin The 2016 U.S. presidential election season unleashed new anxieties about “fake news” and other slippery forms of propaganda that have been enabled by our newfangled social media. However, media manipulation has a long history — one […]

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Built to Spill, Mission Creek Festival headliner, is as chill as ever

Everything about singer-guitarist Doug Martsch and his longtime band is unassuming and undramatic — from the two decades of major-label albums they’ve steadily released as the music industry collapsed around them to the lilting melodies and long, winding solos that weep gently from Martsch’s guitar. […]

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Prairie Pop: Former Angels of Light reminisce about the influence of their brother and son Hibiscus

Before George Harris III became Hibiscus and founded the genderfluid theater troupe the Cockettes, he put on shows with his family in Florida during the early 1960s. The oldest of six siblings — three girls and three boys, sort of an avant-garde Brady Bunch — George formed the El Dorado Players, named after the street they lived on in Clearwater, Florida.

“Hibiscus had real leadership qualities,” his youngest sister Mary Lou said. “He came out of the womb as the grand marshal. He was just like the leader of the parade — tons of ideas. ‘Let’s get it rolling. Let’s not even think!’” […]

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Prairie Pop: NPR’s Codrescu breaks down Dadaism’s ongoing influence

Andrei Codrescu: Documenting Dada/Disseminating Dada Shambaugh Auditorium — Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. Dada was a volatile artistic, social and political movement that exploded in 1916 from the Zürich club Cabaret Voltaire, creating reverberations that can still be felt today. Its fuse was lit by refugees from World War One who decamped to Switzerland, […]

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Prairie Pop: Bibbe Hansen’s rebellious history and dynamic legacy

A single family’s artistic DNA can sometimes leave traces on the genetic makeup of the broader culture. Bibbe Hansen’s familial history, for example, also doubles as a survey of modern American bohemia and popular culture. It spans time and space, encompassing the 1950s Beatnik era and the present, New York and Los Angeles, Happenings and […]

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Prairie Pop: Sell your soul; you’ll feel better

Before Bart Simpson did it, though long after Faust, I sold my soul. This prank permanently cemented my status as a vaguely remembered factoid: “The guy who sold his soul on eBay.” I orchestrated the prank at the height of the late-1990s dot-com era, when eBay was the hot new auction website of the moment. […]

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Prairie Pop: ‘King of Nasty’ John Waters returns to Iowa City for one-man roadshow

John Waters — “Filthier and Dirtier” The Englert Theatre — Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. Prepare yourself. Hide the children. John Waters — the Auteur of Ordure — is once again bringing his one-man roadshow to the Englert, on Oct. 1. “Filthier and Dirtier” is the latest iteration of his vaudevillian act, a freewheeling […]

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Prairie Pop: Flashback to ’70s SanFran drag with former Cockette Lendon Sadler

Lendon Sadler

Plenty of dicks have lived in Iowa City over the years, but only one Cockette. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Lendon Sadler was part of a notorious San Francisco drag troupe named the Cockettes, which filmmaker John Waters affectionately referred to as a bunch of acid freak bearded Marxist drag queens. Since that […]

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Lisa Jane Persky brings her photos and stories of ’70s New York to Iowa City

Writer, actress and photographer Lisa Jane Persky is surely the only participant in the early CBGB punk scene who also appeared in When Harry Met Sally. After moving to Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, she met several colorful characters — from Divine and Debbie Harry to Lance Loud and Yoko Ono (the latter of […]

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Prairie Pop: Looking back on David Bowie’s love affair with experimental theater

David Bowie

The weekend after David Bowie’s death, the Starman’s spirit descended on Iowa City, sprinkling magical fairy dust during The Mill’s David Bowie Karaoke Party and Glam Costume Contest. A benefit for a local homeless shelter that raised $1,700, this lively event embodied what made Bowie such an enduring artist: spectacle. It’s no secret that David […]

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