Tuli Kupferberg Centennial

Tuli Kupferberg (1923-2010)


Tuli Kupferberg, Washington DC, January 1987 – photo (detail) by Allen Ginsberg, courtesy Stanford University Libraries / Allen Ginsberg Estate

Tuli Tuli Tuli, the definitive documentary, by David Liver, is in the works but still needs your support
and what better time to support it than today – on the occasion of the Tuli Kupferberg Centennial

We draw your attention to our extensive 2021 posting on Tuli – here

and to Thelma Blitz‘s exhaustive and illuminating video gathering – here

See also The Kupferberg and Topp Collection – here 

Samara Kupferberg,  Tuli’s daughter, instigator and co-writer of Tuli Tuli Tuli –  (“Tuli Tuli Tuli – 1001 Ways To Be Joyfully Revolted” – to give it its full title), writes:

“September 28th, 2023 (today!)  would have been my dad’s 100th birthday. In fact, I always imagined he would be one of the ones who would definitely stick around to reach 100, he had so much spark and always seemed far younger than his age in years, yet at the same time wiser than the hills. A well known figure strolling the streets of Soho, with his colorful plaid sports jacket and backpack full of groceries, walking up five flights to his book-filled loft well into his eighties, he managed to stay both physically and creatively active till the near end of his life at 86.
As I ponder his life and his legacy, one thing that becomes clear is that he never stopped producing. Starting in grade school he was winning awards for his poems, and he kept on going, writing poems, songs, essays, stories and plays, creating witty and elegant captioned line drawings, co-founding ’60s proto-punk-protest band The Fugs and then his own Revolting Theater performance troupe, and going on to a prolific solo performance career.He had his own Public Access TV show in NYC, Revolting News, starting in the ’80s and still going strong today thanks to Thelma Blitz. He then became an early YouTuber, realizing that the internet was the new way to reach the masses.
I remember watching him in his “office”, a room in the loft carved out of towering bookshelves and file cabinets, piles overflowing and eventually surrounding him as he worked. He would tirelessly send out his work all over the world, to countless publications and to those individuals that he loved and admired. He never let rejection stop him, he kept on going, new ideas continually forming. If one thing didn’t work, discard it and push forward. It is with that spirit that I have been taking up where he left off, sifting through the life of work he left us with, endless pages, each one a new gift of insight into how to make it through a changing, and oftentimes frightening world with humor, love and hope..”

Some recent manifestations of that devoted sifting have included  this:

Time Toward Time Is Flowing – Early Drawings 1950-1965, a limited edition folio with an accompanying text by Josh Brand from Edwin Sellors’ exemplary Ragged Lion Press

(These images appeared as a companion to a pioneering dual exhibit of father and daughter at HOK Gallery, The Hague, Holland, April 2023)


Tuli also appears posthumously with three songs, recorded shortly before his death and now available, on the new (latest) Fugs CD – Dancing In The Universe.

Here’s one of them:


Here’s a vintage Tuli rarity recently re-released “Crime Doesn’t Pay Well”

Here’s Bob Dylan’s favorite,  (from back in ’65)  –  “CIA Man“:

and, if we’re spotlighting Tuli classics, how could we not include this one.  Ed Sanders and Steven Taylor, fellow Fugs, performing his heartbreaking and “most recorded song”:

and, since this is The Allen Ginsberg Project and The Allen Ginsberg connection, we have to confess that, for all his love and affection, Allen didn’t quite get it right.

Thelma Blitz sets the record straight:

“He didn’t jump off the Brooklyn Bridge like it says in “Howl”, he jumped off the Manhattan Bridge and was forever bummed by people who remember him for that, instead of his life of activism..(and) he didn’t “walk away unharmed”, like Ginsberg said, (“who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge… and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks...”), he wound up in hospital with a back injury, then his mother put him in Bellevue.

After that, he opposed all bridge jumps and suicidal behavior, even to the point of refusing to sign a living will. He made the Beat scene but grew to believe that radical politics were more important than poetry and jazz…”

Here‘s Tuli, from back in 1994, recorded at the Holy Soul Jelly Roll Celebration,  (“the oldest living beatnik hippie syndico-anarchist alive in the Lower East Side”, is how Allen describes him, (he was 71 then), “active performer, young man, poet, musician, member of the classic Fugs rock group, cartoonist, theoretician.. prose and poetry poet.. father, and family-man”.

Happy anniversary, Tuli.  In all those who strive for truth and social justice, your spirit lives on.


  1. When Bob Fass finally got back on WBAI after five years banishment, Tuli and myself and a photographer whose name nobody can remember were on his first program. I didn’t have much to say, but Tuli cracked us all up. Later, the photographer got a picture of Tuli and I in the hallway by Studio B. I never saw that picture and would give anything to have it. What an honor to be photographed with Tuli Kupferberg, who will always be The Poet of New York City to me.

  2. His book got me out of the draft during the Vietnam War. I used two deferment excuses, not just one.
    And there’s this: Entering the deferment physical exam, they put us all into a one small room and made us hold our urine test cups for 10 minutes. Typical subjugation tactic.
    I screamed out, “Are you gonna make us hold this piss forever?”
    “You’re gonna make them mad,” The guy next to me said.
    “No I”m gonna make them come in, take the cups from us, and take us out of the room.”
    And I did. TULI made me unafraid to do this. They decided they wanted nothing more to do with me and I got deferred.

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