Kaliflower Volume Five
San Francisco: Free Print Shop, 1980. In beige illustrated cloth. Reflective sheet tipped in to page 218. 256 pp. 10 x 12 1⁄4 in. First edition. Very good. Small spotting at spine; otherwise, a tight clean copy. Item #6572
The large book gathering from the small weekly newspaper Kaliflower, hand-delivered to communes in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. Original issues were printed by the Sutter Street Commune, who called themselves The Friends of Perfection, but were commonly known by the title of their inter-communal newsletter, Kaliflower.
Founded by Irving Rosenthal, author of the beat-era novel Sheeper and former poetry editor of The Chicago Review and Big Table, Kaliflower was deeply influenced by the American ur-commune of John Humphrey Noyes, Oneida, as well as the political philosophy of the Diggers and other radical communal organizations.
Like the newsletters, the book it is not credited or signed by anyone. Rather, “through the paper and its unwritten supplement (the gossip of its carriers) local communes cross-pollinated each other with ideas, needs, and information.” The paper’s readership quickly expanded past the communards, and the creators of the paper decided on suspending it. However, with this book they promised to “re-state, in a simple and condensed form, the main insights about communal living that had appeared in it,” culminating in this book, which collected the beautiful writings and illustrations that had circulated in the preceding editions of the newspaper.
Notable entries include “Taking Lessons from the ‘Little Lenin Library’ to Heart,” a guide against petty-bourgeois consciousness, “Jacking Up Masters,” an apologia for leadership and temporary natural authorities, and “Fucking Upwards,” one of the many guides for love affairs in the commune where they state that “there are no pendulum swings of ecstasy paid for by horror.”.