A Place of Learning

As I said, roaming free through the Special Collection was a blast. Walking through stacks and stacks of little magazines (9000+ titles), I was literally intimidated. My mind went blank and did not know what to look for. In shock, I could only mutter to Jim Maynard: “This is incredible.” All these magazines at my fingertips and I could not bring to mind a single title.

Out of the fog, I remembered J Magazine, edited at various times by Jack Spicer, George Stanley and Harold Dull. This San Francisco mimeo was tough to get a hold of when it was published particularly if you lived west of the Golden Gate Bridge. Spicer hated the eastern publishing establishment and was reluctant to allow copies out of California. Over the years, J has proven even tougher to come by. Copies rarely come to market, which is a real shame. Clay and Phillips mention in Secret Location that J is one of the most beautiful publications of the Mimeo Revolution. The Special Collection at Buffalo possessed five of the eight copies. Looking them over I could only agree with their assessment.

The covers are wonderful, verging on book art. Beautiful manipulations of stenciling, typographic design, and original artwork. Russell FitzGerald, Fran Herndon and George Stanley all worked on the covers, Herndon especially. She served as art editor on several issues. It was quite an experience to view Herndon’s covers of J in the same room where Herndon’s portrait of Robert Duncan hangs.

As with Intrepid 39-41 and The Pirate Press Beowulf, J calls to mind a specific locale. Not the University of Buffalo or King’s, but another place of learning: The Place on 1546 Grant Avenue. Submissions were collected in a box at the bar. Jack Spicer held office hours at this watering hole, one of his many haunts in San Francisco. Blabbermouth Night, which Spicer sometimes MC’d, served as comps in this University. Whether it was at The Six Gallery, The Poetry as Magic Workshop, Aquatic Park, or The Place, Spicer dictated his knowledge to eager students in unconventional settings. So it follows that mimeo and the small press would be the ideal publishing outlet for the “teachings” of Spicer.


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