ENERGETIC FREEK scurries down N. Farwell Ave., passing
out mimeographed flyers to everyone he meets.
piece of paper - jumbled on both sides with a
hodgepodge of colored inks, typefaces and drawings - it
doesn't conform to the average handbill.
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."
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
many as 20 others, ranging from highschoolers to
college professors, help when needed with writing,
stapling and distributing.
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.
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.
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
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.
sitting in the living room of their house, adjacent to
the workroom which contains an electric typewriter,
mimeograph machine and other equipment, they talk
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
explaining that co-operation, rather than profit and
authority, are the important factors of the new
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."
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."
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
messages, perhaps from parents to runaways or for the
sharing of rides, are also popular.
events are also publicized.
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.
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
group believes that the paper are reaching into
factories as well as high schools.
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.)
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
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 . . ."
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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
usually have a little rap in each issue.
it is: 'The Youth International Party is dedicated to
the overthrow of government, morality, money, smack
(heroin), authority and the
says it, I guess."
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.
notoriety also has brought them harassment.
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? »
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.
straight press is too close to government and
institutions," Small said.
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
for us there's no line of distinction. We stick out
like a sore thumb at the Safety Building or City Hall,
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