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Wednesday November 26, 2014
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Voices from the Underground

 

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In the early 1990s, after publishing articles about the underground press in a journal for librarians, Wachsberger decided to do a book and began collecting stories. When his agent couldn't find a publisher, Wachsberger decided to put out the book himself. He was thrilled when, upon its release, a Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote that "It comes closer to anything I've yet read to putting the sights, sounds, and texture of the '60s on paper."

The celebration was brief. A reluctant fundraiser, Wachsberger had left it to Grant to raise money to print the book, and Grant stored at least half of the 2,500 copies in a warehouse in Iowa. But the son of one of Grant's funders, a drug addict, stole all of them and tried to blackmail Wachsberger into forking out cash for their return. Wachsberger refused and looked into legal action, but realized he couldn't afford it--or to reprint the stolen copies. "I went into a huge depression, and it took me years to pull myself out of it," he says.

About six years ago, he decided to try again. "There's no way I could have done this without the Internet," he says. "I had to get permissions [from authors], then I had to find all the images, in many cases photos of artwork." While he doesn't expect to get rich off the project that consumed much of his life, he is hoping it will bring attention and respect to the work of the underground press.

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