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Sentinel Street Sheet Article:  Aug.28, 1971

AN ENERGETIC FREEK scurries down N. Farwell Ave., passing out mimeographed flyers to everyone he meets.

A piece of paper - jumbled on both sides with a hodgepodge of colored inks, typefaces and drawings - it doesn't conform to the average handbill.
We're pushing anarchist principles and community institutions," said [pie-throwing prankster] Pat Small, 21, one of the few members of the collective who uses his real name. Articles are usually unsigned unsigned - except for pseudonyms like soybean Sally or the ubiquitous George Sharkey - to protect the writers and to avoid charges of elitism or "ego tripping."

If you can find it, the masthead reads Street Sheet. Elsewhere it continues: "A free community news service energized three times each week somewhere on Milwaukee's East Side."

The news service is a product of Milwaukee Youth International Party (YIP). Up to 4,000 copies of each issue may appear, put out by a collective of young people.

As many as 20 others, ranging from highschoolers to college professors, help when needed with writing, stapling and distributing.

Street Sheet is typical of many new publications springing up in city activist ghettos and large university communities. A similar publication, Cream City Chronicle, is emerging on Milwaukee's South Side. Parallel publications have been found in Chicago, Madison, Berkeley and Waukesha.

Street Sheet is exceptional only in that it has lasted so long. It has survived since January, 1970, as a regular publication with a fairly stable staff. donations make the publication almost self-sufficient. some of this comes from a canister at Interabang Bookstore, 1668 N. Warren Ave., a clearinghouse for items to be printed as well as a distribution point.

The balance of the $15 to $30 necessary each week week "comes from our pockets," said Albert, 25, a commune member. "It's like most communal situations," the former teaching assistant explained. "At any one time, two or three people have straight jobs to help the rest survive."          

WikiPedia Entry Icon .GIFThe Yippie commune, one of four in the city, doesn't want to reveal its location for fear of harassment, which they say they have experienced in the past.

But sitting in the living room of their house, adjacent to the workroom which contains an electric typewriter, mimeograph machine and other equipment, they talk freely.

 

The most important thing we can do is encourage people to take care of themselves," said Albert [David Friedman]. "We fill a need, by helping people fix and make things themselves, and helping them learn not to want machines that they can't repair."

"And it's political because it's free," said 19 year old Lucy [Julia Gibson], explaining that co-operation, rather than profit and authority, are the important factors of the new community.

Not neglected though are news stories. A typical headline was: "Hot Flash! Pig Boy Goon Runs Amuck," referring - misspelling and all - to an assistant manager of a restaurant who "has been known to sic the fuzz on deviates in the area."

Small emphasized that discrimination "is one of the most important issues facing the community. It's the persecution of cultural groups like freeks, gays and blacks that we're fighting."

AN IMPORTANT PART of Street Sheet is the Want Ad section, through which items are given away or exchanged, or repair services are offered for little or no
fee.                    

Personal messages, perhaps from parents to runaways or for the sharing of rides, are also popular.

Coming events are also publicized.

USUALLY PUBLISHING on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the collective concentrates on events from a radical point of view. In underground style, the editorializing is mixed right in.

As Small pointed out, "We don't know who our readers are. People take 10 of them at a time and put them in mailboxes in their apartments because they dig it."

The group believes that the paper are reaching into factories as well as high schools.

According to the commune members, this popularity can be attributed to the less heavy articles and nonsensical touches, such as a magic talisman to color and cut out ("Wear it only on special occasions or it will get tired," Street Sheet warns.)

Appropriate illustrative touches often decorate such features as the regular "dope forecast" ("HASH -- brown crumbly. $80-$85/oz., $5/gr.; ACID -- orange barrels -- weak but good"). The report tries to warn of harmful impurities and tells of the going prices. At the same time, Street Sheet inveighs against the "death drugs" such as heroin, speed and barbiturates.

Among other practical items are the righteous cooking hints: "Soybeans are the food of the revolution: more protein than meat and a lot cheaper . . . The easiest way to cook them is to soak them overnight . . ."

Street Sheet is not without its critics, even apart from politics. There is its sloppiness and poor grammar, and sometimes its plain inaccuracy. the language is usually direct, often profane.

THE ASPECT OF semi literacy easily could be avoided, even though some of the staff pride themselves on being high school and college dropouts. The general feeling, however, is that getting the job done is more important, and that the present style has an attractive common touch, an anti-elitism.    

Even so, the publication has evolved from a "political, theoretical sheet, so full of rhetoric that people didn't want to read it any more," said Lucy.

The current approach complements this growth of practical institutions in the hip community. Other YIP collectives are into such projects as a food co-op, a children's co-op, recycling centers, a women's center and even a church.

Linda [Randolph], often seen carrying a bundle of Street Sheets down the sidewalks of the East Side, was asked about the general philosophy of the YIP party. She answered:

"We usually have a little rap in each issue.

"Here it is: 'The Youth International Party is dedicated to the overthrow of government, morality, money, smack (heroin), authority and the
nuclear family . . .'

"That says it, I guess."

ALTHOUGH  THAT'S a negative program, the Street Sheet and group activities show a positive approach as well. Their co-operation, for example, was considered important in the negotiations for the Alternate Site. They were instrumental in setting up the first series of free meals at Holy Rosary Church, in the late sixties.

Their notoriety also has brought them harassment.

In the course of a police raid on their former house on N. Oakland Ave. - ostensibly for drugs - their silk screen and mimeograph machines were damaged, they claim.

What about their relationship to better-known examples of underground journalism, such as Kaleidoscope? Why a separate Street sheet?   

ALTHOUGH SOME of the staff work with Kaleidoscope, they answer that their paper is a quicker, more direct form of communication. It can be on the street in a matter of hours. Traditional newspapers also are inadequate in their view.

"The straight press is too close to government and institutions," Small said.

They have to force themselves to go out and do a story on the East Side, for example. They send a guy out all dressed up in a suit and a tie and he sticks out like a sore thumb.

"But for us there's no line of distinction. We stick out like a sore thumb at the Safety Building or City Hall, though."

-- Milwaukee Sentinel
August 28, 1971

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