Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"....martyred in the process."

I wrote this little "squib" nearly ten years ago and put on my old website.  Thought I'd pop it up here.

d.a. levy

Cleveland-based poet/agitator d.a. levy epitomizes the do it yourself ethic.   levy was an ultra-prolific producer of screeds and poems, collage, mail and stamp art, posters and 'zines (they called them mimeos then).  His BUDDHIST 3RD CLASS JUNKMAIL ORACLE is legendary.  It makes other mimeos such as OLE and NEW seem pretty tame.  He died by his own hand on Nov. 24, 1968.  A .22 between the eyes at 26, some have called the circumstances "suspicious." 

Whatever the case, levy was persecuted mercilessly by the local authorities and was under enormous strain because of it.  The charges were related to obscenity, but the subtext was that levy had incurred the wrath of local developers by helping make the student ghetto around the university an attractive interracial, bohemian mecca.   Fact is,  his death did much to deflate an already beleaguered scene.  His neighborhood succumbed to developers and has since become "gentrified."

On the eve of the anniversary of his death [November 24, 1968], I write this to salute levy:  for all his faults and excesses, he was a unique and courageous spirit, burned up too soon.  "The Man" may not have killed him, but it certainly put his heels to the fire. 

levy saw what was going down and made an effort to carve out for himself  some SPACE.  He relentlessly pursued Cleveland as a subject, shoring up with words what he couldn't with actual barricades.  The Man may have bulldozed the places, but the words remain.   levy, you chaotic angry echo, when I think of Cleveland I think of you. 

To see some of levy's work the best starting point is the d.a. levy home page.

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