“A new weekly review of the Los Angeles renaissance.”
Tabloid newspaper format (broadside format from no. 52 forward), published weekly in Los Angeles (briefly bi-weekly in May 1968). Open City was widely distributed throughout Los Angeles via vending machines, newsstands, and street vendors on Sunset Strip, and free copies were sent to many of the city’s most influential music and film industry executives and artists. Bukowski thereby attained a much wider readership than had been available to him from small-press poetry journals. The occasionally sexually explicit content of his essays on society, culture, and politics soon brought him local notoriety and eventually made him famous. Essex House published a selection of the essays in January 1969.
Date/sequential designation: First issue dated May 5, 1967; final issue dated Mar. 6, 1969.
Statement of responsibility: Edited by John Bryan (who had earlier published Open City Press, in San Francisco, before relocating to Los Angeles and briefly working for Art Kunkin at the Los Angeles Free Press.
Content: Charles Bukowski contributed a weekly column titled (by publisher John Bryan) “Notes of a Dirty Old Man,” for 87 weeks from 1967 to 1969; his column did not appear in nos. 84 and 86.
Biographical/historical: The resurrected journal Renaissance, originally published by Bryan in San Francisco in 1961, first appeared as an insert in Open City in issue no. 52 (May 1, 1968), with cover art by Bukowski, and contributions from Allen Ginsberg, Anais Nin, Lenore Kandel, and William Burroughs, among others.
Statement of responsibility: Other contributors to Open City include: Douglas Weston; Steve Richmond; Frank Wolf (publisher of LA Provo); John Wilcock’s Other Scenes; John Carpenter (later music editor of the Los Angeles Free Press); Paul Williams (on hippies); Jerry Hopkins; Liza Williams; Derek Taylor; John Thomas; Ralph Gleason; Jack Hirschman; Paul Krassner; Jean Seberg; and Charles Brittin (Black Panther funeral photos).
Content: Topics include: the Strawberry Fields psychedelic commune; the rise and demise of Los Angeles’s various Love-Ins and Be-Ins; Phil Ochs; the Angry Arts Festival; a 2-page photo-illustrated report from the Monterey Pop Festival; numerous album and concert reviews (e.g., The Doors, Frank Zappa); Ed Kienholz; Richard Goldstein on a local freak, Vito; John Bryan on The Byrds; Timothy Leary in Los Angeles (2 p., including an interview); Joni Mitchell; Leonard Cohen (photo-illustrated); and the death of Neal Cassady (1 p., with photo, and including a brief description of an acid test “freak-out held in Compton on a demoniacally beautiful night in 1966”.); psychedelic films; the Pentagon demo; Jefferson Airplane; the leather bars of Los Angeles; Canned Heat; Frank Kofsky on The Doors (1 p.); Richie Havens by Mike Jahn; 2-page photo-illustrated centerspread on The Mothers of Invention; Joanna Magloff on Wallace Berman (illus.); Peter Stafford ("Acid, Rock and Revolution"); Tim Hardin; David Ackles; Tom Rush; Johnny Cash; Alan Watts; Jerry Rubin; Jerry Hopkins on Jim Morrison; outlaw motorcycle clubs; a review of Warhol's "Bike Boy"; the Newport Pop Festival; Eldridge Cleaver; the Black Panthers; Yippies; Jeff Beck; Pink Floyd; LA's first Homosexual Film Festival; feminist confrontation with the Miss America Pageant; Scientology; Cold Mountain Farm; as well as numerous articles on police oppression in LA, the drug scene, and the shifting attitudes towards sexuality and race.
Content: Interviewees include Chet Helms (reprinted from the East Village Other); Janis Ian; George Harrison (interviewed by Derek Taylor, discussing LSD and spirituality); Ramblin' Jack Elliott; Van Dyke Parks; Ben Van Meter; Lee Michaels; Country Joe (interviewed by Chester Anderson); Art Kleps; Peter Fonda; Mick Jagger (interviewed by Barry Miles, reprinted from IT); Howlin' Wolf; Melvin Van Peebles; a 1-page interview with Lou Reed conducted upstairs at the Whisky á Go-Go; and Procol Harum.
Content: Regular music club advertisements for numerous blues and rock musicians include: The Troubador (Tim Buckley, Canned Heat, Joni Mitchell, Howlin' Wolf, Pogo); the Ash Grove (Kaleidoscope, Taj Mahal, John Fahey); The Magic Mushroom (Peanut Butter Conspiracy); The Cheetah (The Nazz, The Standells, The Seeds, The Mothers); Golden Bear (Vanilla Fudge, The Electric Flag); Santa Monica Civic (Buffalo Springfield, Cream); the Shrine Exposition Hall (Moby Grape, Country Joe & The Fish, The Mothers of Invention/GTOs/Alice Cooper, The Who, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead); Kaleidoscope (Them, Incredible String Band); the Hollywood Bowl (The Doors); The Bank (The Fugs); The Forum (The Doors); a full-page for Ed Roth; Kim Fowley; The Living Theatre at USC (2 photos); small Elektra ads. for the MC5; more.
Content: Record company album advertisements include The Fugs' "Tenderness Junction" and Love's "Forever Changes" (both full-page). The sexually explicit photo in the advertisement for The Asylum Choir (Leon Russell and Mark Benno) in issue no. 60, featuring a full-frontal naked young woman, led to the police closing Open City on an obscenity charge. The subsequent $1000 fine, combined with Bryan's legal costs and a second obscenity arrest in September 1968, relating to a piece by Micheline in the Bukowski-edited Renaissance insert, eventually caused the paper's closure.
Numbering: Two issues are each numbered 84, and two are numbered 89.
Acquisition: Purchase ; BeatBooks ; March 2013 ; 009465