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September 28, 1923
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||July 12, 2010
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Author, poet, singer, cartoonist, pacifist, anarchist, musician|
|Known for||The Fugs
1001 Ways to Beat the Draft
1001 Ways to Live Without Working
Naphtali Kupferberg was born into a Jewish, Yiddish-speaking household in New York City. A cum laude graduate of Brooklyn College in 1944, Kupferberg founded the magazine Birth in 1958. Birth ran for only three issues but published notable Beat Generation authors such as Allen Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima, LeRoi Jones, and Ted Joans.
Kupferberg reportedly appears in Ginsberg's poem Howl as the person "who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown". The incident in question actually occurred on the Manhattan Bridge, and is mentioned in the prose poem "Memorial Day 1971" written by Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman:
I asked Tuli Kupferberg once, "Did you really jump off of The Manhattan Bridge?" "Yeah," he said, "I really did." "How come?" I said. "I thought that I had lost the ability to love," Tuli said. "So, I figured I might as well be dead. So, I went one night to the top of The Manhattan Bridge, & after a few minutes, I jumped off." "That's amazing," I said. "Yeah," Tuli said, "but nothing happened. I landed in the water, & I wasn't dead. So I swam ashore, & went home, & took a bath, & went to bed. Nobody even noticed."
The above paragraph by Berrigan and Waldman is a poetic fiction, according to Kupferberg, and did not really occur as stated. Ginsberg's description in Howl is likewise fictional, Kupferberg told his friend Thelma Blitz and other friends such as Larry Sloman and Steve Dalachinsky in personal conversations. He did jump from the Manhattan Bridge in 1944, after which he was picked up by a passing tugboat and taken to Gouverneur Hospital. Severely injured, he had broken the transverse process of his spine and spent time in a body cast. He told Blitz he feels it's important that people don't think they can emulate this leap and walk away unscathed as the poetic accounts suggest he did.
Kupferberg self-published the book Beatniks; or, The War Against the Beats in 1961. Perhaps his best-known book is 1001 Ways to Beat the Draft (1966), a satirical collage created with Robert Bashlow. In 1961, he wrote 1001 Ways to Live Without Working, which actually contains 1005 ways to live without working. The book also contains a number of old advertisements, for items such as raffles for slaves, and unfailing ways to cure cancer and obesity. One of his last published volumes is Teach Yourself Fucking, a collection of cartoons, which was published by Autonomedia in 2000.
In 1964, Kupferberg formed the satirical rock group The Fugs with poet Ed Sanders. Kupferberg took their name from Norman Mailer's substitute for the word "fuck" in his novel The Naked and the Dead. He was one of the band's singers and wrote many of their songs such as "Morning, Morning," "Kill for Peace," "CIA Man," "Supergirl," "Carpe Diem," and he set to music Matthew Arnold's pacifist wedding hymn "Dover Beach." He also released two solo albums: No Deposit, No Return on ESP-Disk in 1966, which is a collection of found pop poetry, and Tuli & Friends on Shimmy Disc in 1989.
Kupferberg was active in New York pacifist anarchist circles. In 1965 he was one of the lecturers at the newly founded Free University of New York. He appeared as a machine-gun-toting soldier policing Manhattan in W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, a 1971 film about the revolutionary psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich by Dusan Makavejev. An anti-police-brutality skit from his Revolting Theatre appeared in the 1971 Richard Pryor underground film Dynamite Chicken. In 1972, Kupferberg played the role of God in the Canadian experimental film Voulez-vous coucher avec God?. More recently, Kupferberg appeared in the music video for Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror by Jeffrey Lewis. His bi-weekly television show "Revolting News" still airs on Manhattan Neighborhood Network's Channel 56, RCN Cable channel 83, Verizon FiOS ch. 34 and MNN.org ch. 2 on alternate Mondays, 10 PM, New York time, now produced by Thelma Blitz with archival and new material.
Kupferberg suffered a stroke in April 2009 at his home in New York City, which left him severely visually impaired and in need of regular nursing care. After treatment for a number of days at a New York hospital, followed by convalescence at a nursing home, he recuperated at home. He continued to write songs and add "perverbs" to his YouTube and DailyMotion channels, both called "tulifuli." According to The Fugs website, the band had been in the studio completing a new CD, entitled Be Free, featuring five of Kupferberg’s new songs, including the anthem “Backward Jewish Soldiers” and a setting of his famous poem “Greenwich Village of My Dreams”. In 2010 "Be Free. The Fugs Final CD part 2" was released according to the All Music Guide.
Kupferberg died in New York Downtown Hospital in Manhattan of kidney failure and sepsis on July 12, 2010. In 2008, in one of his last interviews, he told Mojo Magazine, "Nobody who lived through the '50s thought the '60s could've existed. So there's always hope."
- Birth 1, The Bohemian Issue (1958)
- Birth 2, Children's Writings (1959)
- Beating (1959)
- Children as Authors: A Big Bibliography (1959, with Sylvia Topp)
- Snow Job: Poems 1946-1959 (1959)
- Selected Fruits & Nuts (1959)
- Birth 3, parts 1 & 2 Stimulants, An Exhibition (1960)
- 1001 Ways to Live Without Working (1961)
- The Grace & Beauty of the Human Form (1961)
- 1001 Ways to Live Without Working" (1961, rev. 1968; German translation by Max Wickert & Hubert Kulterer, with facing English text, Stadtlichter Presse 2009, 2015)
- 3,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Beatniks : or, The War Against the Beats (1961)
- Sex and War (1962)
- The Mississippi (A Study of the White Race) (1962)
- The Rub-Ya-Out of Omore Diem (1962)
- The Christine Keeler Colouring Book & Cautionary Tale (1963)
- Kill for Peace (1965)
- Caught in the Act: a Legal Vaudeville (1966)
- The Book of the Body (with Judith Wehlau, 1966)
- I Say to Masturbate is Human, to Fuck Divine (1966)
- 1001 Ways to Beat the Draft (with Robert Bashlow, 1967)
- Fuck Nam : a morality play (1967)
- 1001 Ways to Make Love (1969)
- Newspoems (1971)
- Listen to the Mockingbird; satiric songs to tunes you know (1973)
- As They Were (with Sylvia Topp, 1973)
- Universal Housewife (1975)
- First Glance (with Sylvia Topp, 1978)
- As They Were Too (with Sylvia Topp, 1979)
- O God! (1980)
- The Crazy Paper (1980)
- Less Newspoems (1981)
- Questionable Cartoons (1981)
- True Professions (1981)
- Why Don't We Do It in the Bed? (1982)
- Was It Good For You Too? (1983)
- After the Balls Are Ova (1984)
- In Media's Feces (1986)
- Kill For Peace, Again (1987)
- Reaganation (1987)
- The Tuli Kupferberg Instant Lottery Broadside (1988)
- The Dark Night of the Soul in the Poetry Mines (1988)
- Signed By the Artist (1990)
- Don't Make Trouble (1991)
- My Prick is Bigger Than Yours (1992)
- The Land that God Remembered (1992)
- The Old Fucks at Home (1992)
- You Know Helen : Maybe Chimps Know a Lot More Than We Think (1994)
- Hey Ann! : What's The Diff Between Religion & Patriotism? (with Dave Jordan, 1994)
- Whitman said : "In order to have great art you have to have great audiences!" (1994)
- When I Hear the Word 'Culture' I Reach for My Gun (1994)
- I Hate Poems About Poems About Poems (1994)
- Great Moments in the History of Sport : No. 4, The Spartans Invent Football (1994)
- Teach Yourself Fucking (2000)
- Paris I Have Never Seen (2001)
- Vox Table Podcast, Fed. 22, 2010. Fugging Around - by Vox Tablet > Tablet Magazine - A New Read on Jewish Life
- Sisario, Ben (2003-07-15). "Rock 'n' Roll Dissidents, Fearless for 4 Decades". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
- Holden, Stephen (1987-08-21). "POP/JAZZ; The Fugs Look Back to 1967's 'Summer of Love'". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
. . . Tuli Kupferberg, the poet and cartoonist whom Mr. Ginsberg remembered in Howl as the person who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and survived. (Mr. Ginsberg said the other day that the incident actually took place on the Manhattan Bridge in 1945.)
- Jewish Daily Forward http://blogs.forward.com/the-arty-semite/129369/
- Mojo, October 2010, Michael Simmons, Tuli Kupferberg featured obit.
- Strausbaugh, John (2000-09-20). "The Old Fug". New York Press. Archived from the original on 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
- Berke, Joseph (29 October 1965), "The Free University of New York", Peace News: 6–7 as reproduced in Jakobsen, Jakob (2012), Anti-University of Londin–Antihistory Tabloid, London: MayDay Rooms, pp. 6–7
- "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror" (video). YouTube. 2007-01-06. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
- "Fugs Founder Tuli Kupferberg Dies at 86". 2010-07-12. Retrieved 2011-02-10.
- Tuli Kupferberg, Poet and Singer, Dies at 86 NY Times
- Mojo Magazine #203, October 2010, p. 34
- Works by or about Tuli Kupferberg in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Tuli Kupferberg at the Internet Movie Database
- The Fugs
- Photo of Kupferberg performing with The Fugs, NYC, 1967 by Michael Maggid
- Tuli's Youtube channel
- Vox Tablet Podcast dedicated to Tuli Kupferberg
- Interview by Jason Gross (1997)
- Interview with Matthew Paris (2004)