As they say in New Mexico. Or, as the Marines say in Ramadi, where an old idea is being replayed: “Be polite, be professional and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.” Viz.:
In three years here the Marine Corps and the Army have tried nearly everything to bring this provincial capital of 400,000 under control. Nothing has worked.
Now American commanders are trying something new.
Instead of continuing to fight for the downtown, or rebuild it, they are going to get rid of it, or at least a very large part of it.
Yessir: We had to destroy the village to save the village. Which takes me back to VDRSVP, a leetle sumzing Norman O. Mustill and I put together nearly 40 years ago during the Vietnam War, in 1969 to be precise:
Prompted by bibliographer Jed Birmingham, who was asking about VDRSVP, I sent him photos of the three issues we did. You can see from the front page of the second one (above) that we took a jaundiced view of things: “NEXT!”
“When you made these items what influences were going through your minds,” Birmingham asked. “I have flashes of the Sigma Project, the underground Newspaper foldout and inserts, as well as the photomontage of the German Dadaists. … Were you thinking of any established tradition?”
The truth is, we were flying blind. Although Mustill and I were aware of various art movements like Dada, or techniques like photomontage, and avant-garde publications like the little magazines of the ’20s and the underground press of the ’60s, none were our particular visual models beyond the general idea of doing a newsprint broadsheet that played with and played off a journalistic look.
The texts, however, definitely were influenced by specific antecedents, although some were contemporaneous: cut-ups, Fluxus, Beat poetry, happenings, conceptual art, political anarchism, the underground press, the radical atmosphere of the counterculture itself. We were outraged by the Vietnam War, from the racist atrocities and other war crimes committed by the U.S. military to the complicity of the American public, which embraced the Nixon regime and its dictatorial policies. Above all, we had a sense of the ridiculous.
Articles on the front page of the second VDRSVP (above) included “War” and “Ho Hum” by Carl Solomon; “Professor Joe: A Candidate for the Presidency” by Alan Ansen; “Four Instant Happenings (Saigon 1 and 2)” by Wolf Vostell, and “Genocide” by Allen Ginsberg. Since you can’t read them from the photo, here’s a sample text (“Collectors Corner” by Annie Rooney and Sinclair Beiles, an arts column of sorts that also appeared on the front page):
It has long been a maxim of the very rich that when you have everything else you then start collecting dead Vietnamese. The trouble is that it is so hard to tell the genuine from the ‘modern’ reproduction that probably not more than half a dozen people in the world are qualified to do so:
Mr. Snowman of Wartski’s of Regent Street announced that a ‘search and destroy’ operation on Quang Ngai City would bring in a further two hundred genuine dead Vietnamese. An aged Russian in Paris who can sometimes be seen conducting discreet negotiations in the Bristol Hotel with the world’s top dealers is reported to have slammed rockets into a school on the outskirts of Saigon making a big haul of the genuine article.
There are a number of continental craftsmen who manufacture fakes out of old Chinese and they find their way into genuine private collections. A manager of a Chinese restaurant in Paris said that since this faking technique had been initiated none of his family or staff felt safe anymore:
One of the most colourful ‘dead Vietnamese’ enthusiasts is a Mr. Calo of Brighton — a cigar-chewing Rolls-driving entrepreneur whose wife’s business ‘The House of Dead Vietnamese’ sells part or whole Chinese models called ‘modern’ as well as the genuine article.
Some fifty pieces owned by General ‘Big Minh’ will be auctioned next Wednesday at Hill House, Cowfold, Sussex. Brisk bidding is expected.