NYU Acquires Archive of Legendary Downtown Arts Pioneer

Fales Library To House Collection of Tuli Kupferberg

Band in New York: Tuli Kupferberg appropriated Yiddish melodies for songs he performed with his band The Fugs.
Courtesy of Ed Sanders
Band in New York: Tuli Kupferberg appropriated Yiddish melodies for songs he performed with his band The Fugs.

By Jon Kalish

Published December 13, 2013, issue of December 20, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

“He was as much of a pack rat as I,” said Ed Sanders, Kupferberg’s friend and cofounder of The Fugs. Sanders recalled Kupferberg’s remarkable memory of the Bible, obscure talmudic passages and hasidic lore. He still marvels at Kupferberg’s ability to sing Yiddish radio commercials from the 1930s.

Lopez is thankful that Kupferberg also retained boxes and boxes of cultural artifacts. “He seemed to have an understanding that [these things] were important and some record of them ought to be preserved,” said Lopez.

Visitors to the NYU archive may be interested in reading an unpublished autobiographical novel that describes Kupferberg’s teenage and college years. Other gems include black panties emblazoned with “The Fugs”; the band’s fan mail from teenagers in the 1960s; cassette recordings of Kupferberg working on songs; and Kupferberg’s correspondence with such cultural luminaries as Aldous Huxley, Henry Miller, Howard Zinn and Norman Mailer.

Both Lopez and Taylor confirmed that video recordings of Kupferberg’s cable TV show, “Revolting News,” are currently not part of the archive. Fifteen years of the public access show produced by Brooklyn musician Norman Savitt and Kupferberg’s longtime girlfriend, Thelma Blitz, are the subject of ongoing legal negotiations. Some of the material used in “Revolting News” can be viewed YouTube. It may be some of the most overtly Jewish content in the archive: Kupferberg holds forth on the Jewish laws of family purity, raps about his trip to Israel in 1990, and sings a song about the man who revealed the Israeli nuclear arsenal. In a music video of The Fugs’ song “Backward Jewish Soldiers,” which is sung to the tune of “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” Blitz reversed black and white footage of World War I soldiers marching, and incorporated photographs of Kupferberg in front of a shul in Brooklyn and a Jewish home for the poor in London.

Samara Kupferberg hopes an exhibit utilizing materials in the archive will help with the dissemination of her father’s work.

“He would want that,” she told the Forward. “That was kind of his whole mission, just to make the work to share with the world.”

Jon Kalish is a Manhattan-based radio reporter, podcast producer and newspaper writer whose work can be found on his blog, Kalish Labs: http://jonkalish.tumblr.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.