[sixties-l] Kaliflower and The Free Print Shop

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon Jan 15 2001 - 23:50:16 EST

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    Kaliflower and The Free Print Shop


    by Patricia L. Keats, Director of the Library

    The California Historical Society is fortunate to have as one of its
    manuscript collections an archive of the publication Kaliflower, produced
    by the Free Print Shop in San Francisco from April 24, 1969, through June
    22, 1972. Ms. 4008, The Friends of Perfection, which was the members'
    semi-official name when dealing with outside agencies, is available for
    research at the North Beach Research Library at the Society. These archival
    materials were donated to the Society in 1973 by Irving Rosenthal and Eric
    Noble. We are grateful to them both for the beautifully preserved condition
    and the completeness of the set as they were donated to us. This year marks
    the 25th anniversary of this donation to the Society.
    The Free Print Shop grew out of one of the communes in the 1960s in San
    Francisco, the Sutter Street Commune. The commune consciously adopted the
    Digger Free Philosophy when it was founded in 1967. The Diggers, one of the
    groups in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury District, took their name from the
    original English Diggers (1649-50) who had promulgated a vision of society
    free from private property and all forms of buying and selling. The San
    Francisco Diggers evolved out of and combined elements of the bohemian arts
    and underground theater communities as well as the radical Left political
    that thrived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-1960s.
    The Diggers combined street theater, direct action, and art happenings in
    their social agenda of creating a free city. Their most famous activities
    revolved around distributing free food every day in Golden Gate Park and
    distributing "surplus energy" at a series of free stores. The Digger
    events, editorial comments of the day, pronouncements to the larger "hip"
    community, manifestos and miscellaneous communications, were broadcast
    through broadsides, leaflets and posters were distributed by hand on Haight
    The Sutter Street Commune was set on implementing a blueprint for action
    that the Diggers had outlined in 1967. The commune's founder brought his
    printing presses to San Francisco in the summer of 1968, inspired by two
    fellow Diggers who suggested a free publishing venture. Over the next
    several years, the Free Print Shop published a variety of materials
    including flyers for other communal groups, for free services, ecology
    groups, free arts groups, and the occasional political protest.
    In the spring of 1969 the Sutter Street Commune began publishing an
    intercommunal newspaper, Kaliflower, named for Kaliyuga, the Hindu name for
    the last and most violent age of humankind and the Hindu goddess Kali. For
    over three years Kaliflower fulfilled the Digger intent to provide a free
    publication for Bay Area communes. At its end there were close to three
    hundred communes that were receiving Kaliflower every Thursday.
    "Kaliflower Day," as the name by which Thursdays became known, was an
    intercommunal ritual. That was the day of the week when Kaliflower got
    bound and distributed to all the other communes on the routing list. In the
    beginning, each commune that received Kaliflower had a plywood board with a
    poster located in the communal space where the messengers would
    hand-deliver the Kaliflowers. The California Historical Society has not
    only copies of all the original issues of Kaliflower, but also one of the
    plywood boards used for delivery. A bamboo tube, attached to the board, was
    where any free messages were put waiting for the deliverer's pick up. Our
    copies of Kaliflower were donated in an old Japanese steamer trunk salvaged
    from a Victorian house in Japantown, where commune members lived for their
    first seven years.
    Each Kaliflower was printed and bound by hand. The binding used the
    Japanese method of yarn overstitched on either the top or side. Every issue
    was a different color, and offset printing was the method by which the
    issues were printed. Kaliflower became an important mode of communication
    among the communes. It was common for people who delivered Kaliflower to
    come back with stories of going from one commune to another and being feted
    at each in various ways. These messengers
    would pick up announcements and free ads that would appear in the next
    issue. The California Historical Society also has a complete set of the
    broadsides, posters and other printed matter distributed with Kaliflower.
    In addition, there are 286 Free Print Shop leaflets on various topics such
    as "Free Presidio 27," "Bring Huey Home," "Hells Angels Party," " The
    Non-Violent Revolution of India a Talk," and "Gay Liberation Now."
    Eric Noble, one of the donors of the collection, became the unofficial
    archivist for the commune and the movement at large. Noble, who still lives
    and works in San Francisco, has also created a Web Site devoted to the
    Diggers (www.diggers.org) which has a wealth of information about the
    Diggers, Kaliflower (from which much of the above information was taken),
    and other communes in the Bay Area during the 1960s and 1970s. The
    California Historical Society also has another related manuscript, Ms.
    3159, on the Haight Street Diggers, which is closely related to the above
    donations and was donated by
    Noble in 1976.

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