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October 26: Launch of The Village Voice

October 25, 2015

tumblr_nedj2vJUJF1qmyviao1_1280Norman Mailer, a best-selling author with his novel, The Naked and the Dead, joined four other literati in launching The Village Voice on this date in 1955. It was the first of numerous “alternative weeklies” in America, and among its best-known Jewish regulars were cartoonists Jules Feiffer and Stan Mack, First Amendment watchdog (and jazz critic) Nat Hentoff, feminist writer (and rock critic) Ellen Willis, political columnist Jack Newfield, cultural critic Richard Goldstein, and many others. The Voice was an early GLBTQ advocate and was one of the first organization in the U.S. to extend domestic partner benefits to its workers. It has published many of our country’s best writers, poets, and artists, but in recent years has lost most of its political and avant-garde bite.

Mailer “described his time as an assassin-and-lover columnist for the Voice as being filled with marijuana, sexual conquests, and the bohemian counter-culture in Greenwich Village. ‘Drawing upon hash, lush [sic?], Harlem, Spanish wife, Marxist culture, three novels, victory, disaster, and draw, the General looked over his terrain and found it a fair one, the Village a seed-ground for the opinions of America, a crossroads between the small town and the mass media,’ he later reflected in the introduction of his Village Voice columns in Advertisements for Myself. Four months later, however, he quit the paper — ­a move he attributed to typographical errors in his column.” —Harry Bruinius, The Village Voice