This most recent record of the old Helix was record last Oct. 29, and may be compared to one below it from 2008, and then another from the 1970s. At the bottom the door is open, but to the first Helix office, which was in the University District on Roosevelt Way and a half-block north of 45th Street..
Below: While I recall the faces and beards of the two on the left at the Helix front door on Harvard Ave., I no longer remember their names. But to the right are Pat Churchill and Tim Harvey. Both contributed to the paper. Tim handled the UPS and LNS selections and edits and also did some of the best reporting for the paper, as well as drama reviews. In our recorded remarks Bill White and I have referred to Tim’s writing often enough. Rereading Tim I wish that I could indicated somehow my admiration. He may still be in Maine but I’ve not found him as yet. I remember that both Pat and Tim often had a cup of coffee in one hand and sometimes a smoke in the other. As did I and almost everybody in the smoke-filled office. But at that time we were eternal.
Helix this week is austere, at least when compared to any of the 30 some previous offerings. And things will stay restrained for about two weeks more, for we have lost Bill White – temporarily. This week Ron Edge’s clever black-white lasso of the Moitoret Helix logo is left without color. Ron has restrained himself, for it is he that has been putting up those colored renderings every week – with about two years to go. (They should make a fine little Edge Animation. We can show it on YouTube.)
Now it occurs to me that this lack of color is prefigured by a slide I took many years ago of the front of the old and last Helix office on Harvard Ave. The place was plastered with bills. I’ll put it up. (For sake of disclosure, perhaps it was recorded with Tri-X and not color.) Someone – like Bill White – with a detailed understanding of Seattle’s Rock history will be able to date this by the bands playing.
[Now someone has: Mike Whybark. While Bill is on the train – thanks Mike. Here’s his comment, which can also be found far below. Mike refers to both front door shots of the abandoned Helix, this one and the other near the bottom of this contribution. We’ll put his truths in quotes, and this welcome interruption in brackets.
“Black and white posters shot includes a date: Freak Show at the Central 6-2-91, flyers in the clerestory of the storefront. I also note the mass of posters lower down is very weathered with no fresh flyers. I would guess that this then dates from the first year or so of the poster ban, around 1993. The color pic [near the bottom] looks to be around 1982. Three alternative market bands are featured: The Stranglers (UK based), Romeo Void (LA) and Echo and the Bunnymen. Romeo Void had the shortest half life of these bands so I say about 1981-1982.”]
Things will stay dormant for about two weeks more – until Bill gets settled in Peru. We say farewell Bill. But we wait to hear from you. (He has sent a few lines from Chicago and a few more while rolling through Washington D.C. via Amtrak. They were understandable complaints about the price of train food, the difficulties of sleeping in a coach, the state of North Dakota and the state of national politics. But soon comes relief, for Bill by now must be approaching dangling Florida. There on its western shore he will join a cruise ship filled with tourists. On my trip across the Atlantic long ago I quickly developed a fondness for tourists and the deck shuffleboard and swimming we shared high above the ocean. Bill’s journey with take him and his tourists through the Panama Canal, in the direction of the new world. Fifty seven years ago I too went through it in the opposite direction landing in the old world at Tilbury on the Thames.
Bill intends to send reports by land and sea and with pictures. Once he is comfortably at home in Lima we will figure out how to resume these weekly offerings with our partnered commentaries, by means of SKYPE and some recording program we have yet to install. And we hope that a few thousand miles, Skype and the cameras on our respective screens will help us get better at reading Helix.
The trip from Seattle to Lima, which takes a few hours by air, will last a little under three weeks for Bill – a luxury for a writer as prolific as he. We shall wait to read him. A century ago Bill could have easily booked steamer service to South America directly from Seattle. And there was a boat operating as early as the 1870s named for the City of Panama, on the isthmus that by then had the first transcontinental railroad in any hemisphere crossing it. For one crossing over from the the Old to the New, adding to the coastwise-steaming on two oceans, the rattling of less than a day by train, made this Western Migration something like tolerable. And there was less chance of catching Malaria on the little train than on a hired wagon though that steaming jungle.
Bill has moved more north-south than east-west. But he has gotten older. Pizarro, the tough Spaniard who founded Lima, called it the “City of Kings.” That was in 1535 – by now time enough the grow a layered culture. Bill will add to it with his singing and writing – even in English. Wallingford will not be the same without him, although the neighborhood is also changing. Tully’s, the bigger espresso shop on the northeast corner of 45th and Meridian folded. It figures. Tully’s was a place we used to go for meetings but with minimal consuming. At the same time the west wall of the place has been painted with a sampler of Wallingford’s destinations. It is mildly charming if one is feeling good but pathetic when not. Ron Edge snapped it from his driver’s window. Bill print this and hang it on a north wall in Lima.
Now a snapshot of Bill on his last day in Wallingford and the Northwest. I’m helping him pack some primitive essentials – although he later refused them. (Until inserting this, I had not noticed that the right pocket on my temperate winter coat is torn. I inherited it from my oldest brother Ted, now six years beyond. I’ll leave it alone.)
Returning – in conclusion for this week – to a more colorful Helix this time in Kodachrome. This slide is not dated, but Bill can probably figure it out from the names on the posters. Now what will happen to all the familiarity that is part of him? Losing White to South America is like burning a library with a smolder. Bill we await your reports – by Land and by Sea – and books both real and magical from the “land of crosses.”
John Ullman, one of the founders in 1966 of the Seattle Folklore Society, often introduces his correspondence with a quote from Charles Seeger. We use it here as a fitting caption to a picture of the then 19-year-old Reed College sophomore John playing his guitar a few years past with New Mexico’s Candy Cane Cliffs a backdrop. John, I know, is very fond of the Southwest but he has lived most of his post-doctorate (yet another in genetics) here in the Northwest – for the most part in Portland and Seattle.
There is a vibrant connection between the above photo of John Ullman and the Lightning Hopkins concert that he helped bring off with aplomb, as you will conclude from the interview. John’s guitar is the same kind of guitar – a Gibson J-50 – that Lightning Hopkins played at his concert here in 1967 and no doubt many others. John has reviewed the interview below and was somewhat surprised by the smoothness of its flow. We were not. He is well-spoken and so is is also well-constructed for more interviews, which down the line we hope to do on subjects like the Folklore Society, the University District folk clubs in the 1960s, the Piano Drop and Sky River Festivals (there he will share a stage with many) and the molecular geneticist’s take on sex, drugs and rock and roll. With his review John noted one regret. He wished that he had explained that the reason he and others drove to Portland for folk concerts was because of his alma mater. Reed College was producing them in the early 1960s – an inspiration to do the same here with Seattle’s own folk society. This will come up again in one or another interview with John.
A day later with the help of Phil and Vivian Williams, also founders of the Seattle Folklore Society and producers of its concerts including this one with Lighting Hopkins, these two snapshots of Hopkins were found. Portland player Mike Russo is at the piano. John explained that Russo, who began the concert with his own set, came up to play piano for Lightning near the end of the Texan’s set. Another photo showing the elated condition of the ethnically mixed, sold-out crowd will be found – hopefully – later and brought on as addendum.
To conclude, here’s a before and recent after or “now” (by Jean Sherrard) of the venue where Lightning played in 1967: Washington Hall.
Postscript: The above interview is in “fulfillment” for it was promised in one of our earlier weekly blog postings of HELIX. Thanks to Bill White for editing the John Ullman tape (digits rather), although it did not require much cutting. Soon I hope to interview John about something he has written about recently as a reporter; which is the fate of all those writers who once, like he, were published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
I conducted this interview with Jon Gallant in the late afternoon of June 7, 2012 with a tiny Olympus recorder yet run on digits and cushioned in a small box of rubber bands and set in a cat mattress propped on my lap. We used no other devices, no prompters and no baton. Jon and I sat side-by-side on a Wallingford sofa. Following the interview Genevieve McCoy snapped the accompanying photograph. (I don’t remember feeling as stunned as we seem.) The interview runs about 30 minutes. I suspect that once negotiated you will want more of Dr. Phage, and we give it to you. Below are five links to other essays written by the Doctor – or doctors, really, because Phage is also an Emeritus Prof of the U.W. Dept. of Genetics. Also down there is a printing of his contributions to the then still bi-weekly Helix for May 16, 1967. It is titled “A Few Modest Proposals.” Surely Jon’s inspiration for his proposals was, at least in part, Jonathon Swift’s own “A Modest Proposal” of 1729 for solving another of those Irish famines. The interview itself reveals the origins of Dr. Phage, his part in the founding and early programing of KRAB (listener-supported) RADIO, and his role in the 1968 Richard Green candidacy for Washington State Land Commissioner, and much else that is at once Swiftian and devouringly screwball.
A FEW MODEST PROPOSALS
By John Gallant / first published in Helix Vol.1 No. 4, May 16, 1967
A number of months ago, I offered the City of Seattle a few modest proposals, including the idea of establishing a professional garbage team. That proposal would have neatly solved two urgent problems in one blow, but I received no call from the mayor’s office, even though I stayed glued to the phone for minutes at a time awaiting the summons. I suppose that some jealous functionary prevented my brilliant suggestions from being relayed to the upper echelons. So, tonight I will give the city another chance. Here are a few modest proposals for a progressive, up-to-the-minute Seattle.
1. The R. H. Thompson Expressway, which has for years been only a gleam in the highway commission’s eye, has reached a terminal planning stage and may start under construction later this year. Let us remember, however, that long-range planning is the essence of progress, so Seattle’s long-range planners should bear in mind that the expressway is only a temporary stage. The next step in the foreseeable future is clearly the removal of expressways, as the proposed removal of San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway demonstrates. So Seattle’s planners should immediately embark on a study of the removal of the R.H. Thompson Expressway. Seattle would certainly move into the forefront of progressive city management if it were studying simultaneously the construction and the removal of the same expressway. Perhaps the master plan could coordinate the two activities, so that the demolition crew moved closely behind the construction crew, tearing down each section of the expressway as soon as it was built. That would be progress with a capital P.
2. The planners are already considering the location of the fifth Lake Washington Floating Bridge, or it is the fifteenth? In either case, this approach is lamentably backward. What they should be considering is the economics of covering up the lake entirely with floating concrete pontoons. Floating bridges are, after all, old hat as tourist attractions; but the world’s first floating parking lot would attract people from all over the country in droves, if only to find a parking space. Real estate developers could throw up instant suburban communities right on top of the lake, which six-inch gaps between pontoons to afford each and every home-owner a view of authentic Lake Washington water. Apartment houses would follow, with names like “The Pontoon Arms”, and, “Concrete Vista”. The hundreds of acres of Lake Washington, formerly squandered on sheer, undeveloped, profitless water, would at last yield up revenue. Free enterprise with a capital F.
3. The city government has been alert to the menace of simulated psychedelic experiences such as light shows, but the authorities must reckon with a host of other psychedelic substitutes. Polaroid sunglasses, for example. People wearing polaroid shades can see a twinkling deep indigo effect when bright sunlight is plane polarized by reflection from the surface of Lake Union. And sunlight passing through glass or plastic – motorcycle windshields are especially fine – produces marvelous spectral patterns along lines of stress, which are visible only through Polaroid shades. Shocking report, these private light shows can be enjoyed, without license from the police department, by anyone wearing Polaroids. Meanwhile, drug substitutes are cropping up like mushrooms; mushrooms, in particular, have been cropping up like mushrooms. And researchers working under filtered banana peels report that copies of HELIX, ground up very fine, produced remarkable effects when smoked. Underground laboratories, staffed by hippies with the proverbial high school dropout’s knowledge of chemistry, have been trying to modify the chemical structure of peanut butter so that it can be mainlined without its sticking to the veins.
4. Effective thought-control has been limited by a certain other-worldliness in city government. For example, city officials at first agreed to rent the Opera House to Timothy Leary because they had no idea who he was (he was using the assumed name of Timothy Leary.) Although Leary’s nefarious doings have been reported all over Time, Life, and Newsweek, the press of public affairs evidently keep the City Fathers from keeping up with recent developments, which go unreported in the funny papers. Accordingly, I propose that a special commission be established to keep abreast of the great outside world and filter information about it into the minds of the city council members. The commission could present the city council with concise reports. In very simple language, on such recent developments as the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age, the deposition of King Louis XVI of France, and the advent of talking moving pictures . . .
It seems that Tuesday – not Monday – will become the more likely day of the week these Helix Redux offerings will appear here. (But don’t necessarily count on it. We will still aim for “Wash Day” to hang these sheets.) Here’s another 12-pager. It includes many delights, and I took the opportunity of the attached audio to read one of them: an early Dump Truck Baby feature by John Cunnick in which he reflects on the meanings surrounding having ones own newspaper in its eighth week and still learning. Inside is also an adver for the OCS concert with The Grateful Dead at Eagle Auditorium, and in that line we will attach several snapshots from that bright blue Sunday afternoon picnic with power at the north end of the Golden Gardens parking lot. You will recognize the Dead faces, surely, but also some others I suspect in the rapt listeners. There are a few snaps of other musicians performing as well including one of Larry “Jug” Vanover who will be delighted to see his own slim self in 1967 with jug in hand – I expect.
I’ll not caption any of these Dead photos. There are nine of them and they come from the remnants of the Helix darkroom. I’ve not determined as yet who recorded them. At the bottom of this line-up are four or five shots of other players, include – at the very bottom – one of Larry Vanover with jug in hand.
This fourth issue is a maturing cache of our typical subjects, which did include, yes, war, drugs, sex and rock-and-roll. Many of its parts are not signed – a frustration now – but within it appears new names that would become stalwarts of HELIX production, names we will recognize and thank, no doubt, down this 2&1/2 year line of putting up every issue and in order. And I have found a few more negatives of that first Flower Potlatch Isness-In at Volunteer Park. Once scanned I’ll attach them below.
An audio commentary is attached directly below. The disciplined listener might want to illustrate the “sound track” by opening the pdf to the paper itself – first – giving HELIX time to materialize before punching the audio button. The audio runs about ten minutes and then prudently adjourns until next week.
[audio:http://pauldorpat.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/01-04.mp3|titles=Helix Vol 1 No 4]
As noted above, we have scanned a few more scenes from the first Be-In at Volunteer Park, named, in part, the Potlatch Isness-In.
Don Edge, once again, did the coloring of our symbolizing bug or representive logo – the masthead.
We continue to turn the screw – of Helix – reaching now the fourth issue, which is curiously numbered “3&1/2.” This will be explained in the audio link. At the bottom of it all are several snapshots scanned from Helix negatives that I wound up with after the paper folded. We will try to identify the photographer – later. Perhaps it was Gary Finholt. Gary? A few of these are also printed in the gnarly centerfold of Issue Three and One/half.
[audio:http://pauldorpat.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/01-3.5.mp3|titles=Helix Vol 1 No 3.5]
[audio:http://pauldorpat.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/helix-vol-1-no-111.mp3|titles=Helix Vol 1 No 1]
HELIX VOL. 1, NO. 1 – Introduction to Posting on April 2, 2012
As I croakingly describe it in the accompanying audio (linked above) my best plans to comment on the entire first issue of Helix were upset by the time I reached page three of twelve. (It was a small first issue.) Still I did browse the entire tabloid, and was charmed with pleasant and often vivid memories. But the audio commentary is keyed entirely to subjects on those first two pages.
A similar restraint will follow next Monday with the second issue. And so on and on for nearly three years more with a new old issue appearing each week on Wash Day. For this first issue, and the rest of them too, I’ll choose only a few ripe subjects to comment on. (The alternative would resemble biblical commentary piled on by medieval scholastics, a volume many times greater than scripture itself.)
Perhaps I will get to comment later on pages three to twelve, especially if asked about its parts by readers. And it may be that at some point I will return to add something to any page in any of the issues, thereby compiling a Summa Helixa – although not so systematic as Doctor Universalis’ Summa.
Besides the recorded but ragged weekly commentaries, I might also attach more captioned photographs – relevant but not necessarily directly to that week’s issue. I’ll include a few examples at the bottom.
While preparing this first issue I noticed a little hoax on the front cover. It was given the page number 35. It was new to me, but Ron Edge, who is scanning (Blessings to the Scanner) all the issues, was aware of the wild number and thought it was a prankish gift of first issue enthusiasm. Surely that is so, and I suspect Meryl Clemens, one of the paper’s founders and also one of the artists who contributed to the front cover. Ron scanned his own copy, which is better than mine, but still his ink has also faded in 45 years.
As it developed Henry was certainly the most distinguished among us – a brilliant man of great kindness and charm. With the freedom of blogging I have found his fairliy recent vita and print it here.
AMERICAN MOLECULAR BIOLOGIST
Since the early 1980s, Henry A. Erlich has been well-known in the forensic and medical communities for helping to pioneer the research and development of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique that ultimately lead to a number of important forensic and clinical applications. As a result of the pioneering efforts of Erlich and his team of scientists, the first commercial PCR typing kit was developed specifically for forensic use. Currently, Erlich is the director of the Department of Human Genetics and vice-president of Discovery Research, both for Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.; and the co-director (and co-founder) of the HLA Laboratory at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institutell three located in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.
Erlich grew up in Seattle, Washington. He began his bachelor’s of art degree in 1961 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he completed his degree in 1965 with a major in biochemical sciences. That same year, Erlich was a research assistant at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Erlich then began his advanced degree, completing his doctor’s of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in 1972 from the University of Washington (Seattle) with a genetics concentration. While working on his degree in 1967, Erlich also worked with street gangs as a Vista volunteer in New Mexico. Erlich did his postdoctoral work in microbial genetics (1972975) at Princeton University in New Jersey, where he was employed as a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton’s Department of Biology. Erlich did further postdoctoral work in immunogenetics (1975979) at Stanford University (California), where he was employed as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Department of Medicine, Division of Immunology.
After completing his postdoctoral studies, Erlich became a scientist at Cetus Corporation, an Oakland-area biopharmaceutical/biotechnology company located in Emeryville, California, where he held various teaching positions and served on the editorial boards of such industry publications as Human Immunology, PCR Methods and Applications, and Technique. Erlich was later promoted to senior scientist and director of the Human Genetics Department, both positions that he held until 1991.
During his early-1980s work with Cetus, Erlich led the human genetics group in the research of PCR techniques. He was especially interested in developing technology for the study of human genetic variation, and with it the applications in forensics and clinical medicine. In 1986, Erlich’s research resulted in development of a PCR technique that ultimately produced a number of clinical and forensic applications. Also in 1986, in what is generally considered the first use of PCR-based forensic DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) analysis in a U.S. court case, Erlich carried out the confirmation that two autopsy samples came from the same person in the case Pennsylvania v. Pestinikas. About two years later, Erlich and his scientific team saw the development of a commercial PCR typing kit as the first forensic application within the United States of DNA typing of HLA-DQA (human leukocyte antigen with a DQ alpha PCR test) locus.
Erlich transferred to Roche Molecular Systems, Inc., located in Alameda, California, in 1991 when the company acquired the rights of PCR technology from Cetus. Today, Erlich holds three important positions with Roche: director of Roche’s Human Genetics Department, since 1992; co-director of the HLA Laboratory at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), in Oakland, California, since 1996; and vice president of Roche’s Discovery Research, since 2000. Erich’s work at CHORI puts into clinical practice the technologies that he had developed for PCR-based HLA typing.
The primary research performed by Erlich in concert with Roche involves the analysis of molecular evolution and population genetics of HLA genes along with human genetic variation and genetic susceptibility to diseases, especially on autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes. He also researches the analysis of polymorphism in HLA genes and the development of HLA typing for class I and class II loci within tissue typing and transplantation, anthropological genetics, and individual identification.
Erlich maintains an academic affiliation with the Stanford School of Medicines, where he is an adjunct professor of medical microbiology and immunology. In addition, he also sits on several editorial boards (such as Human Mutation and Tissue Antigens); participates on numerous human genetics committees (such as the International Histocompatibility Council and the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence-Research and Development Working Group); and is a member of the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics and the American Society for Human Genetics. Erlich has authored several books, with one of the latest titled PCR Technology: Principles and Applications for DNA Amplification.
Erlich has also been bestowed with many honors within genetic research and writing including such awards as the Gideon Goldstein Award (Walter and Eliza Institutes, 1989), the Biochemical Analysis Award (German Society of Clinical Chemistry, 1990), the Brown-Hazen Award (Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research, 1990), The Rose Payne Award (American Society of Histocompatibility Immunogenetics, 1990), the Advanced Technology in Biotechnology Milano Award (International Federation of Clinical Chemistry, 1991), the Award for Excellence (Association for Molecular Pathology, 2000), the Profiles in DNA Courage Award (National Institute of Justice, 2000), and the Colonel Harland Sanders Award (March of Dimes Clinical Genetics Conference, 2000).
The HELIX cover printed just below appeared first on the 1st of December, 1967, which was still in the first year of the tabloid’s three year – and a few weeks – run. The cover was one of artist Jacques Moitoret’s many contributions to Helix. With age the pulp it was printed on has nurtured its color. Starting tomorrow, Monday April 2, 2012, we will feature it again on the front page of this blog as the front door – or button – to eventually all issues of Helix. We mean to put them up in the order they first appeared. Directly below Jacques’ butterfly is another and longer introduction to this project. You can read it and/or listen to it. The audio, which I recorded at my desk in one take!, runs about eight minutes. (When, in the context of revealing how Helix was conceived, I mention looking “down on 42nd Avenue,” please hear instead, “42nd Street.” It is correct in the copy, but wrong in the audio.)
AUDIO for the Following INTRODUCTION
[audio:http://pauldorpat.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/helix-intro-24bit1.mp3|titles=Paul’s introduction]Sample of banners
(Click to Englarge)
By those who remember it, Helix may be described as “Seattle’s First Underground” newspaper. This, I think, is too romantic or glamorous. Rather, it was Helix candor – above ground – that was apt. It could be either disturbing or compelling – of course, depending.
Helix was conceived in a conversation with Paul Sawyer, a friend and Unitarian preacher, now deceased. I can recall the moment in color. We were alone in the Free University office (beige walls and gray ceiling), on the second floor above the Coffee Corral on University Way, aka “The Ave.” Under a blue winter sky and from the window I followed a couple walking hand in hand below me on 42nd St., when over my left shoulder Paul suggested, “What we need here is something like the Berkeley Barb.”
The Barb was one of the many weekly tabloids associated with the 1960s “counter culture” that were blooming then from Boston to L.A. and soon from Atlanta to – with Helix – Seattle. Most of these were loosely connected with university communities and the talents they offered. Here, for instance, Helix bundled Seattle’s University District and the University of Washington as part of a town and gown experiment. That was in the winter of 1966-67.
Now thru the next nearly three years we will hang from this blog all manner of HELIX, which is every issue from Vol.1 No.1 to Vol. 11 No. 21. By posting one a week, and in the order they first appeared on the street, we expect, or hope, that the paper’s often illuminated pages will stimulate some responses and recollections – some current alternatives for drop out, turn on and tune in. Perhaps remember, reflect and rejoin.
The first issue of Helix is dated March 23, 1967, although it “hit the streets” a few days later. And then it popped! Pastor Paul was right – it was what we needed. It was our own news and opinion, often otherwise not reported. And it also yielded the small economics of street sales, which helped many get by. At 20-cents a copy our little pulp was enthusiastically consumed, sold by vendors whose enterprise was only limited by the number of copies they could carry and the charms at their corner. (The seller kept half the cover price.)
(Cartoons by Skagit Valley artist Larry Heald above, and below. All three of the artistic Heald brothers, Maury, Paul and Larry, were part of Helix.)
The first issue was late because Grange Press, the scheduled printer, on seeing the flats we delivered to their high-speed photo-offset webs, found the content somehow offensive. At the time this rejection mystified us, but if you choose to browse that same first issue – and it appears here first tomorrow – you may find something in it that hollers for more than editing, perhaps for censorship on the grounds of decency or national security. (And please point it out with a blog response.)
With help from some civil libertarians we found another printer, Ken Munson, a union man. Ken pulled good fortunes from the combination of our Grange rejection, and his Heidelberg flatbed press. This meant higher quality pressings and split-font color for the covers and centerfold on an array of colored newsprint. On the day of publication the flatbed also obliged a ritual for the staff that was at once bonding and blabbering. Every issue printed on Ken’s flatbed required hand folding and collating on the big tables in the Helix office.
For the first few months Helix was published only every two weeks, but here from the start we intend to bring it back every week, ordinarily on those Mondays that aren’t busy with washing. We may treat Sunday’s Seattle Now & Then as a civic service, and Monday’s Helix as a humanist’s hippodrome. On the distinction of having first heard the voice of Pastor Paul over my shoulder in 1966, and having edited the paper for most of its life, I will introduced each issue with a commentary. Much of it will be new to me too, for although I was the editor through most of its life, I did not read it all. Editing the Helix was sometimes like being a coach, making certain that there were enough players were on the field.
For much of the staff, myself included, preparing and publishing a paper was like attending school, and many of us stayed involved in community life – even journalism – beyond owning a home and paying taxes. Throughout the weekly routine of publishing a newspaper we were more reporters than hippies, and much of the super sincerity often associated with those we primarily served – “the hips and the rads” – was wrapped by us in irony and the rules of evidence. Ours was a sort of liberal conspiracy of both self-taught and schooled intellectuals who might join a demonstration but when the nightsticks came out we might also think “My how ironic!” while running away.
After the next nearly three years of weekly postings, if we are then still able – I mean standing – with the readers’ help a book might be fashioned from all these reflections and reprints. Then certainly we would also have to edit. Thankfully, already one of our staff, Walt Crowley, wrote his book Rites of Passage which treats on the Helix and the events of that time and it can still be easily found in public libraries and perhaps your own. Add two years more to these about three of weekly offerings and we will be spot on for the paper’s Golden Anniversary. And then surely a few from the original staff will be lingering to lift a toast at the Blue Moon.
Above and below, two political cartoons by artist Mike Lawson.
Springtime is a good time to reminisce about our youthful enthusiasms, while also reflecting on some of our abiding concerns. We hope you respond. We will check for posts for one thousand days, should we survive them what with springtime allergies and day-in and day-out mortality.
*There was little that was “underground” about Helix. When the Yakima Eagle printed that they were determined to find out who was printing our paper and lead a boycott against them and us we published the details for them in Helix. Our only underground certainty we discovered after the paper passed away when we surveyed our stripped quarters on Harvard Ave. East. We found that our phone had been elaborately tapped, but then again almost certainly in the interests of decency and national security.
Silently set with a lustre so fitting for some of the dancing days we played within it’s walls, the Oddfellows Ballroom (and like the Eagles Auditorium with an encircling balcony) was wonderfully fit for staging light show dances – and our’s were.
As the poster below elaborately confesses, in 1976 the remnants of 1967 had a big dancing party (we might have called it an A’GOGO-BEIN, except that the connotations of “gogo” were too commercial) here, in this Oddfellows Temple on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the founding of the Helix, the first “alternative tabloid” hereabouts and the local member then of the nation-wide UPS, or Underground Press Syndicate. The Helix was first imagined in the University District, in the upstairs office of the Free University of Seattle (FUS) in the fall of 1966. It sprang of “necessity” from a conversation I had with Paul Sawyer, a Universalist Preacher then, and recently deceased – last year. Paul said, “We need a newspaper – something like the Berkeley Barb.”
The weekly tabloid began publishing in the Spring of 1967. With lots of help from Ron Edge – of this blog’s “Edge Clippings” and more – we hope to put up the entire Helix opera sometime this year. (Ironically, we may have to take on advertising to pay for the added memory required to post it and other over-sized resources. We hope not. Jean especially is committed to a blog free of ads – except, of course, for our own.)
One of my many little ways of negotiating survival during the 70’s was receiving two CETA grants through the Seattle Arts Commission. One was for arranging benefits for local non-profits in the arts and the other for studying local history with a mind to making a film about it. I used this hall for more than one of the big benefit shows, and it was in the AND/OR gallery on the ground floor of Oddfellows where I made my first presentation on work-in-progress on the Seattle Film, which I was then calling “Seattle’s Second History.” Recently, Jean’s youngest son Noel was helping feed the 99%, which was temporarily camped nearby on the Seattle Community College campus. Jean and I met him at the Oddfellows cafe and bar. (They ordinarily promote this space singularly with “Oddfellows” and with neither cafe nor bar. I makes it seem more club like.) The cafe is housed in the same big room that was once home to the principal avante garde-plus exhibit and performance space of the 1970s: the And/Or. In the interests of – or curiosity for – the timeline of this hallowed space on 10th Ave., I asked three persons connected with the busy cafe if they knew anything of its past. Alas, they were all clueless. It seems my prime looks forward from the past, while theirs does the same from the present.
It is often a mixed delight to come upon negatives – like the ones on top and below, both of the Oddfellows – I photographed long ago, for ordinarily I did not date them. While I’m confident that from context – several contexts – I’d eventually be able to date this scene, it would require days for sorting and reflecting through thousands of plastic sheets of negatives. For now I put it sometime in the 1970s. Since I also developed the film It would have been so prudent to have simply marked the negative holders – seven strips deep and five 35mm negs wide – with the date and the place, although ordinarily I still remember the latter.