Ed Sanders is best known as the founder of one of the ultimate underground sixties bands, The Fugs, as well as being the author of the definitive study of the Manson case, The Family. His new autobiography Fug You basically covers his life during the sixties, not only with The Fugs, but as owner of the Peace Eye bookstore, and publisher of the Fuck You/ A Magazine of the Arts literary paper. As is probably obvious by the name of his magazine, Sanders believed in freedom of speech and in questioning authority at every level. In the sixties, the government did not take kindly to such endeavors, and Fug You chronicles the ups and downs of that turbulent era from deep inside the underground.
Sanders made his home in the Lower East Side of New York, where he operated the Peace Eye bookstore and his magazine. These endeavors afforded him the opportunity to meet a great number of the movers and shakers of the time. I have read a fair amount of accounts of the sixties, including The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, but what makes Fug You special is how Sanders provides a nearly seamless bridge between the Beats of the fifties to the hippies of the sixties.
When he arrived in New York, Sanders was immediately drawn to the Lower East Side, where the coffeehouses, poetry readings, and folk music scenes were in full bloom. He considered himself a poet in the beginning, and something of a “radical” publisher who would print whatever suited his fancy. This led to trouble with the cops, as they did their best to shut his presses down. As the sixties moved forward, Sanders came to realize that music was a far more effective method of expression than poetry, and formed The Fugs.