Sorry if I'm not about to shut up my own voice. I haven't done it yet-- this is hardly the time to start.
There are, I find, unresolved questions about what the ULA organization is to be like. A team of equals, sure-- but what kind of equals? What sort of team?
The question is whether the Underground Literary Alliance is to be yet another flabby laissez-faire lit-group, accepting of everyone and everything, no matter how corrupt; putting peace before all; existing with hardly a mission or direction; content to be just one more irrelevant local player on some one or other local scene.
Or, instead, is it to be what it was at its beginning-- disciplined, committed, and DEMANDING, making noise and putting pressure on all around it.
Yes, ULAers and others no doubt are tired of hearing about the founding group blah blah and so on. That's in the past, and the future is now. Yet it remains the best touchstone we have of what we can and SHOULD accomplish.
Let's see what record we achieved, in a mere eight months: Bombarded the establishment media with a coordinated letter campaign; organized and carried through the largest mail Protest (against the Guggenheim grants) in American literary history; engaged the staffs of the two leading lit-journals in New York, Paris Review (led by George Plimpton) and Open City in debate at CBGB's and mopped the floor with them, so they slunk out with heads bowed and tails between their legs; crashed in extremely exciting fashion a reading at the heart of the beast at which many magazine and lit Insiders were present; staged ten days later a "Legends of the Underground" reading at New York's Amato Opera House featuring many of the best underground writers in America, names like Wild Bill and Jack Saunders appearing for the first time at the center of media empire; these actions receiving large write-ups in places like Village Voice and the New York Post-- sending shock waves to the very foundations of the literary establishment. Whew! Quite a lot, I think. How did we do all that?
It wasn't done by playing patsy with every local wannabe organization or by putting ourselves in secondary positions to other lit or non-lit groups. We let the world know we, as underground writers who'd walked off the reservation-- as the voice of rebellion-- were secondary to no one. That HAS to remain our message. We're unique-- always have been-- and can be nothing else. We have to have this stance and this attitude. A group that accepts less than this, I want no part of.
I AM going to lobby not just for the ULA, but inside the ULA, FOR the principles this group was founded on. Those principles were that we be the most hard-core balls-to-the-wall lit-group that's ever been known.
We all have our own goals and projects. I know that. I may even have some private goals myself. The ULA strategy has always been that these goals take secondary importance to building the ULA name, constructing a platform upon which we ALL can stand on-- so that our personal projects will then have a fair chance-- in this unfair world-- of real success. This means not diffusing the ULA name, swamping it too quickly under dozens of other names, so that the platform collapses and we all sink into quicksand as a result of our own short-sightedness.
Are these unfair remarks? Unfair, undemocratic, or not, they're the truth.