Tuli Kupferberg 1923-2010

I got to meet Tuli Kupferberg a few times in New York.  Once, my brother Matt and I ran into him on a park bench in Tompkins Square Park and hung out with him for fifteen minutes or so.  Sometimes I’d see him around and say hello (or not). 

I’ve never lived in New York.  My brother has.  Since 1980, I’ve got there nearly every year.

The above image is from the 1973 book As They Were.  It was a compilation of “Celebrated People’s Pictures” including many famous writers, musicians, politicians etc.  He put it together with his wife Sylvia Topp.  This picture is from the title page. 

It had great childhood photos from infants to teenagers. They’re listed in alphabetical order. 

There’s Frank Zappa on a strange “trike” wearing a sombrero.   There’s a disturbing photo of the baby Hitler.  It includes 1800’s figures as well, represented by drawings or early photographs.

It was followed by two sequels, one of more photos and one of early creative work by famous writers, artists etc.  I bring this up just to say he was more than just a member of  the Fugs (cool as that was).  I do like the Fugs and I have some of their music in my collection.  I always enjoy hearing their stuff.

I enjoyed his political parodies.  He took old songs and added new lyrics.  I liked his cartoons too.  Then his “1001 Ways” series of books are also favorites, when I can find them.

He was a legendary hipster too.  He was always a bit older, old enough to see Charlie Christian play guitar in a New York club.  That’s impressed me.  Then there’s the whole Howl reference.  Was Tuli the guy who jumped off of the bridge and walked away?  He was definitely part of the beat scene.

I recently saw his bit part in the film W.R .: Mysteries of the Organism at the Burton Theatre here.  Around that time, I heard he’d had health problems and that there was a benefit for him.

In any case, he’ll be missed.  I offer my condolences to his friends and family.

This includes a bibliography of his books:






The Fugs:




you tube videos:


One Response to “Tuli Kupferberg 1923-2010”

  1. Urban Morén Says:

    I have a couple of memories of Tuli. In 1969, I was writing an English Literature term paper on the Fugs so I got around to doing some research. I got wind of a tape recording of one of the Fugs’ performances in my then home town, Lund in Sweden. I had it copied and wrote it down, the songs and all the interlude talk verbatim, as much as I could, being a Swede. I had a great time and my tutor encouraged me and I wrote to Tuli about my project and he sent me lots of written material, like the Fugs’ Song Book and Fuck Nam : a morality play. I always thought he was very gentle and now very generous.
    The second event was at a concert in a pub in Uppsala, Sweden, in the eighties. I just couldn’t help myself and I was fairly drunk so I shuffled my way up to the stage and he came over and bent down and started talking to me in mid performance. I told him who I was and he recognized me and we talked for some time. The manager came over and, after telling me off a couple of times, threw me out. I was beaming with joy after actually having met one of the people who had influenced my outlook on life so much. I couldn’t care less if the rest of the audience were peeved with me. I walked all the way home that night, a several hours’ walk, and was feeling completely elated. I still feel that way thinking about it, even though I later found out that the chap I went to the concert with, had actually been sitting down for hours with the whole band after the concert.

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