Friday, January 22, 2016

Barbed comments

Slowly but surely, little by little, the Internet delivers newly archived treasures that represent impressive effort by dedicated researchers and historians.

My newest find, discovered entirely by accident, is Independent Voices, a searchable open-access collection of alternative press publications from the 1960s, '70s and '80s. To quote their own web site, "Independent Voices provides more than 1,000 titles from the special collections of dozens of libraries ... providing easy access to the powerful voices of feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Latinos, gays, lesbians and more."

For my purposes, the site provides almost the entire run of the Berkeley Barb, from its debut issue on August 13, 1965, through April 24, 1980. (The newspaper actually ceased publication on July 30, 1980, and the archive also misses a few issues along the way: no doubt issues that Independent Voices couldn't locate.)

This is terrific, because the Barb ran an ambitious entertainment calendar in each issue, along with numerous club ads. As a result, my quick search on "Guaraldi" yielded 39 results: mostly gig dates — quite a few that were new to me — and the occasional display ad.

It's easy to get lost in the Wayback Machine, paging through random issues of the Barb, which was quite the font of campus radical thought ... not to mention eyebrow-raising ads and photos for massage parlors, X-rated films and other sources of, ah, prurient matters. (The easily offended, or those with conservative tastes, therefore are advised to proceed with caution.)

Discovering Independent Voices encouraged a return visit to ChickenonaUnicycle, an even more impressive archive of greater San Francisco-area club calendars, gig posters and informative essays, all lovingly maintained by Ross Hannan and Corry Arnold. They're good about updating, and I hadn't caught up with recent developments; my reward was a June 1972 calendar poster for the Inn of the Beginning, which includes an appearance by our favorite jazz pianist.

Fair warning, though: You can get lost in this site for years. Anybody who came of age in the 1960s and '70s will have all sorts of memories revived ... or fabricated. (You know what they say: If you remember the '60s, you weren't there!)