Yesterday's news of the death of Tuli Kupferberg (hat tip Frank Wilson) - at an amazing age, given his excesses and self-destructive moments - took me back to a time, many years ago, when I would seek out (and they took some seeking out) and buy albums by his 'band', The Fugs. Nothing else offered quite such a pungent mix of fun and filth, scabrous satire, Blakean lyricism, scholarly wit and drug-fuelled craziness. I still have their splendidly titled gatefold album It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest, the Fugs' most expensive (i.e. least cheap), most musically accomplished (i.e. least completely shambolic) album. The tracks range from a blast of acid rock (Crystal Liaison) to strange and sweet lyrics (Rameses II Is Dead My Love, Burial Waltz, When the Mode of the Music Changes), chants and spoken word gags - including a haiku joke - and a track titled Claude Pelieu and J.J. Lebel Discuss the Early Verlaine Bread Crust Fragments (don't ask). I haven't listened to it in years, and most likely never will again, but for some reason I hang on to it still. They don't make them like that any more - and they don't make them like Tuli Kupferberg any more.
I also have a book that he co-compiled with his wife Sylvia Topp, called As They Were. It's a collection of strangely haunting and revealing photographs of famous people as children - no commentary, but none is needed. Once seen, the picture of Hitler as an infant is never forgotten.