The First Contact Sheet of the Counterculture


“It was a typical Village Voice front page from 1967: Over the left two columns, a street portrait of the ‘dean of American pacifists,’ A.J. Muste; over the right two, an action shot of police arresting Charlotte Moorman, the Juilliard-trained cellist who was a must-see on the downtown art and music scene — not least because she sometimes performed nude. Both photographs were snapped by the Voice’s always-on-the-scene Fred W. McDarrah. ‘The Voice of the Village: Fred W. McDarrah Photographs,’ featuring many of the Voice staffer’s up-close-and-personal shots of the cultural and political luminaries of the 1960s and ’70s, opens today at the Museum of the City of New York. As we wrote in an earlier Voice archive piece, ‘If reporters are charged with providing ‘the first rough draft of history,’ the ground-level, street-smart photojournalist McDarrah gave us some of the first contact sheets of the counterculture.’ It is hard to open one of the green-bound Voice archive volumes from those tumultuous decades and not see, after a few turns of the pages, a ‘Voice: Fred W. McDarrah’ credit line. Born in Brooklyn in 1926, McDarrah served in the Army with the occupation forces in Japan after World War II. When he returned to New York, he began photographing the downtown demimonde, which he termed, ‘The most colorful community of interesting people, fascinating places, and dynamic ideas.’ In the August 23, 1962, issue of the paper, it was official. Fred W. McDarrah had become the Village Voice’s staff photographer. The announcement appeared on page 2 of that issue, surrounded by ads for galleries, bookshops, bars, and health-food stores. McDarrah’s name now appeared on the masthead, which was on page 4, surrounded by letters to the editor about the Voice’s coverage of the suicide of Marilyn Monroe and the trial of the murderous Nazi bureaucrat Adolph [sic] Eichmann. McDarrah, the native New Yorker, could be found on the spot, all over the city. His main subject, however, remained the creative vanguard of downtown, including a compelling 1966 portrait of LeRoi Jones, the poet, theater director, and activist later known as Amiri Baraka. The tenor of the times McDarrah was capturing can also be felt on these pages in ads for jazz innovators Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler, as well as in calls to redeem war bonds as a way to protest war in Vietnam. …”
Voice

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Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Books, Counterculture, Feminist, Happenings, Jazz, John Kennedy, MLKJr., Pacifist, Rob. Kennedy, The Beatles, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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