Here is a more intimate look at urizen books and what went down at that time and how i failed to prevent it & a lot of etcetras
again handke plays a role.x mr
Once more URIZEN BOOKS, with feeling
I would say that if I had gone to a lawyer in 1978 when it became clear that Schulz was using Urizen to sluice the funds from his mob-co-owned pornographic -dubbing firm Vicland Productions and if I had eliminated him and then run the firm on my own it would have continued to exist a few more years – eliminating the drain that was Schulz would have saved several hundred thousand dollars right there and then - although whether I would have wanted to continue to live at the edge of that cliff forever ever is another matter. I am quite happy to have done a psychoanalysis – a full time job itself - and seen a few other beautiful spots on this earth. But let me start at the beginning of what became one of the most unexpected and nightmarish adventures,
And perhaps I’ll even poster it @:
In I think it was Fall 1970 Schulz and a side-kick of his – Henning??? – showed up at my Lantz & Donadio office on 57th Str. where I was agenting Suhrkamp Verlag and wanted the rights to do a few Handke plays at Bob Kalfin’s Chelsea Theater/ B.A.M. This was welcome news – I had translated all the early plays, trouped around town with a returning hippie troupe – from San Miguel D’Allende; worked with Herbert Berghof and E.G. Marshall on the texts; and agreed to revise my Kaspartranslation for Peter Brook; in exchange for giving him a year’s option received free tickets to his Midsummer Night’s Dream , an offer that I exhausted to the consternation of Brook’s business manager – I happened to know Brook’s work quite well. But I was not achieving public performances with the Handke plays– Berghof’s private HB Studio two week runs had led nowhere.
In 1971 Spring was the premiere, attended by Handke, who and Kolleritch / Stadtpark Forum Graz, and actress wife Libgart Schwartz were an Austrian Cultural package tripping around the USA – the trip that produced the marvelous Short Letter Long Farewell.
Handke was not pleased with the premiere and subsequently paid a visit to the director and then mentioned during our cab ride toElaine’s that [a] it was just as well the premiere had taken place in Brooklyn – little did he know of its growing cultural significance - and [b] that he thought Schulz was “very dark.” When I questioned that assessment, Handke qualified by saying that at the very least Schulz was “very German” – by which I felt he meant what I had observed on the West German Autobahn’s where the U.S. vehicles seemed to dawdle compared to the Krauts, and Martin Walser had then explained to me that that is how one drove when one had lost two World Wars – a good enough way of putting it.
I myself had had no dark experiences with Schulz , then girlfriend Pamela [King] Bellwood , who had dropped out of Self-Accusation to take the lead in the touring company of Butterflies Are Free, mentioned that Schulz shouted. He seemed a bit deferential to me, not the sort of thing I like, but it seemed minor Nice parties at the 65 WB Loft. Oh yes, Schulz was dressed in a clown’s suit that American hippie girlfriend Barbara Becker had made for him. As the world turns, From one clown suit to another as we age :
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There was an Indian-American helper, Suki, Schulz was starting to make socially oriented documentaries for West German T.V. ; WPA was one of his subjects and eventually the knowledgeable Amerkanist Olaf Hansen appeared on the scene. Schulz surrounded himself with other interesting folk; Schivelbusch, Heubach.
Lantz-Donadio and I resigned the Suhrkamp account that same year, 1971, because Unseld turned out to be an unrepresentable con-man and contracts drawn with Suhrkamp once they involved real money became liable to blackmail interference. In general those two years were financially disastrous for me since Straus found a way – as dawned on me far too belatedly - of divesting me of ¾ of my participation in the books I had brought them – the Hesse being the goldmine, and Straus managed to do so even though I had had warning that he cheated. Big mistake of mine not to have let my agent Max Becker handle all matters of that kind. I didn’t think that someone for whose firm I had millions with the titles I brought them … ah, but that was one of my many ways of being wrong. Turns out - if you read Boris Kachka’s FSG book - despite the riches I brought them the firm was verging on bankruptcy most times! Not that you would have thought with the estate in Purchase, the Mercedes and the way he carried on at the book fair..
Though there was very little left to sell of Suhrkamp when I took over the representation, and little of their hugeedition and other productions was placeable, and an impossible and notorious governess type, Helen Ritzerfeld ran their rights departments and disenabled half of the few deals I managed to raise, I got to do a lot of reading and read how edition andbibliotheca Suhrkamp were editorially developed – it was the sort of thing that had interested me since the early 60s when I was reading for Collier-McMillan who were dreaming of putting all the toughest books out in quality paperback and onto drugstore shelves! And so when Herder & Herder was sold to McGraw-Hill and Werner Linz, who now ran Herder, agreed to my proposition to start a kind of American edition backed by the immense resources of McGraw-Hill I jumped at the chance.
During my one and only truly well-salaried year McGraw moved from that great Art Nouveau steamer on the West Side to one of these upright , airless shoeboxes on Sixth Avenue; and all great plans came to naught because Harold McGraw and sub-rights lady Beverly Loo fell for one Irving’s fraudulent Howard Hughes autobiography – perhaps you recall the NY Times headline the morning the fraud started to unravel …. After millions had been wasted.
I had been around the folks who had split off from Suhrkamp and had started the Verlag der Autoren / VDA – one outfit that has persisted from those hoary days; some fine folks at McGraw - Joyce Johnson, Stanley Aronowitz’s editor; the once wunderking Robert Sussman-Stewart, Lois Berman, and I sought to create something similar to VDA n New York, but did not find sufficient support among authors; who turned out to think that this kind of venture might afford them greater royalties.
Herder Herder then sought to get itself back out from under the dark McGraw cloud, and I got a six month reading shipboard vacation before Linz hooked up with the bishops at Seabury Press, and Herder split into Continuum [secular] and Crossroads [religious] and I managed to get a few nice things done there , an inkling of what I planned.
Linz , it turned out, was yet another con-man and I never detected a passion in him for books of any kind and have no idea how he came to publishing -management, biz?? – he sold American Herder out from under nice Frank Schworer [who returned to Krautland and started Campus Verlag;] for an estate in Rye; and Linz turned out not to really back my ideas or authors not even when they involved making some real money, which is how it came to that evening at your place x-mas 1974 when I proposed to Schulz that he and I ought to start a publishing firm at some point – I had turned my German representations over to him, though Suhrkamp turned him down; but he had been effective, I knew him to be effective, had no idea of his financial status, but the look he shot back at me that evening told me that he liked the proposition.
Simultaneously, Charlie Weber - who passed this past x-mas - asked me to do a new book for Brecht’s Three Penny Opera that he was going to direct for the man who became the third Urizen partner, Leo Feldsberg [Oberon N.V] who was worth approximately 50 million courtesy of selling Fructo, a Colombian fruit packing company, just In the nick of Castro – Leo wanted in and got in for $ 100,000 and I ought to have pointed out to him what it cost to put a new firm on solid footing, about five million, the start-up capital of Atheneum around 1970. Urizen was started with $250 k , 100 Schulz, 100 Leo, 50 me, thirty borrowed, and had it not been for Sussman’s Sex Differences Reader being sold to six different book clubs we could have closed up shop even before the end of the first year – Leo wanted a distributor and the kind of deal I made with Dutton forced us to put out everything we could as soon as possible, otherwise the fee that Dutton took became prohibitive.
I recall a visit from Schivelbusch to the Rockaways where I lived before I moved back into the city – Schulz’s representative who proposed “social history” as one of the firm’s major emphases – no objection on my part; I disavowed what seemed to be a desire to regard belles lettres from an ideological perspective. At the end of that afternoon, Wolfgang famously marched into the surf which rapidly upended him; he lost his glasses, got a bad headache and “Slavegirl” had to drive him back to the city. – Prophetic~
Initially, once the firm was incorporated, I bought a lot of stuff at marvelous bankruptcies – prophetic!
After the first hair raising year I then found the first tax shelter infusion and for a while Urizen seemed to flourish; we had a good salesman, Howard Linzer, who assembled a good sales force.
In Spring 1977 I received a call from Susan Sontag, a friend, who wondered whether I was aware that the source of Schulz’s funds were a firm called Vicland Productions that dubbed porn - U.S. porn at that point was mob produced – at which point I became aware of a pal of Schulz’s, Victor Bertini – Vicland, how cute! Schulz himself by then had turned out to be pretty much of a shouting screaming bastard who was taking a salary without working and starting to have the same kind of toxic effect on me as he had on the progressively more distraught Soldati, Victor B. and who was laying off all kinds of WSK Production expenses on Urizen – something I failed to stop when it started, which it did at the inception of the firm.
By 1978 Linzer had quit and for a year we had dead space by the name of a defunct Korean Hyung Pak , who however alerted me - during Schulz’s failed attempt at a trifecta that involved Klett Verlag being taken for half a million dollars - that WSK was sluicing large amounts of money through the Urizen account to improve his capital position as well as to wash his multiply washed funds – eventually I learned how Vicland had come about. Schulz had made one of his documentaries about the production of U.S. porn – and then got a call from someone in Germany offering to pay if he could deliver dubbed versions. Those were the sources of his excess funds. Via Leo Feldsberg [whose investment came via Obereon NV, Netherland Antilles], Schulz got his vehicle, Princeton N.V. Later, the Vicland dubber, the killer Christopher Gierke whom Schulz had imported to do this work, told me that Schulz also screwed Bertini out of half a million dollars – I well believe it.
it wasn’t that Schulz was a complete drag, he did find us our UK distributor the Trotskyist Pluto Press, who I think are still around, a fine mutual arrangement. Especially since they turned old-time Stalinist Wilfred Burchett’s Grasshoppers & Elephants over to me, which they were willing to distribute but not publish on their own. Klett - before they pulled out - put in 50 k.
Editorially it became evident at once that Schulz carried petty grudges – it appeared that Adorno had shown him the door in Frankfurt, so I couldn’t do my now aging Adorno reader; his interaction with Handke had left him ill-disposed and so the only Handke we did was the one I had when we started, Nonsense & Happiness. I must say that the only time I acted in a similar petty fashion was when I blindly opposed Marshal Blonski’s Semiotics reader – still puzzled by my perversity!
Otherwise Schulz and I pretty much agreed editorially – Brodsky I did entirely on my own account, whose work Schulz hadn’t the faintest, as he turned out to be entirely “amusisch” – however, he kept coming at you so that I often just gave up, Olaf’s Randolph Bourne Reader made no sense since Bourne was widely available; though the Bourne then became Olaf’s meal-ticket to the US Amerikanisten – Schulz stole his WPA work and never gave him credit in the film he made of it. - I also just gave up in the case of Dick Howard’s boring compilation – the sort of thing I hated. And then it went into a second printing!
In 1978 I did not immediately go to a lawyer or get in touch with Leo whom Schulz meanwhile had screwed out of 50k on a film deal they had been involved in – Leo for me was an instant embarrassment, the proverbial dirty old man who made you understand how one became a millionaire by truly suffering the loss of each and every buck. Simultaneously during that time I was the night time sounding board , with one of her banker lovers, or an old flame, cathy wolfman, who had bus stop shelters inc, which was besieged by several monster billionaires; and facing a hugely corrupt city bureaucracy – this night work
involved taking those strong alkaloids that get you over the Andes and acquaintance with an alkaloid dealer, let’s call him Charles, to whom I got via some friends at Elaine’s who fancied the stuff recreationally. At Charles I met fellow publisher Jeffrey Steinberg [Stonehill] who was both a junkie and became my tax shelter agent for a powerful second infusion.
The Bus Stop Bankers wanted to put Urizen into the proper financial condition – but passed once they got a whiff of Schulz’s arrogant behavior; ditto for a banker whose wife’s autobiography I edited [for 10 k for Urizen was my fee for 100 hours] – one look at Schulz and he bowed out.
When an IBM heiress asked me up to her Paris apartment for a “cup of coffee” all I did was drink coffee until she kicked me out – just too unattractive. Carey Cameron if you remember her - who loved threesome had made that introduction - herself an oil heiress.
Simultaneously around that time I edited Robert Kalich’s The Handicapper, which brought in 40 k for Urizen after the Kalich organization paid us 20 k for editing it into shape and another 20 to take the property back when Urizen did not achieve the kind of advance they fancied – they Bob & twin Dick T he first twenty came in via subscription to members of the Jewish mob for whom Bob had been the handicapper; some of it in brown paper bags – and that is how I got to know the Jewish mob! The book was eventually done by Crown and became a Book of the Month club alternate . On one of these biggies was the banker for the Italians, and I met the head of the Harlem drug trade at Abe’s Fifth Avenue apartment! Most were indistinguishable from legit business folk, Abe’s brother Robbie was Costello’s best Jewish pal. One look from him, I recall, as I entered Abe’s place one evening with the Kalich twins, and my flesh felt carved cleanly off my bones. Most of these folk had started with pushcarts in the Bronx during the depression. One was a fine lawyer and ex-Colonel in the Marines and became a fried, office in the Woolworth building where I went swimming with Ed Koch in the mornings at Jack LaLanes.
Charles, the dealer had been a stellar bar keep and had a book I was helping him edit, a kind of ultimate bar man’s guide – something I knew I could merchandize. It was one of my aces in the hole so I made believe.
Schulz took over the firm in 1979 abd I was vain enough to think that as an eminence grise I could keep it going anyway. Schulz claimed Feldsberg wanted him to run it, and I did not find out that he had lied until I saw Leo one last time well after bankruptcy. Schulz at that point in 1979 must have run into desperate straits with his film making operation. By 1980 he failed to pay not only my salary but the Urizen fulfilment service – Urizen may have been indebted to the total of a quarter million but it had a monthly income via sales of 10 k – and to fail to pay the cut that they service took for fulfilling sales and collection is one of the remaining great puzzles. Schulz needed 25 k desperately – it appeared that I might be able to borrow against a small inheritance that was then becoming available, but that turned out to be impossible , too. Then Schulz sold the heart of Urizen, its dozen best-selling titles, including your reader, and a few other things such as friend Kurt Mueller-Vollmer’s Phenomenology Reader – to the man to whom you could sell the Brooklyn Bridge , that is, to Werner Linz. At the bankruptcy hearing Schulz claimed he could not pay the fulfillment service once the firm had filed for Chapter 11 – and no one called him on the lie, and those 25 k went into his pocket and paid whatever he was desperate to pay; I never found out what the specific problem was; I did not get to see the checkbook during the last year and made it a point to ask and have Anne Hemenway ask him for it; he forbade Glaviano our accountant, a sliver of an office on the same floor, from showing it to me; his desperation must have had to do with the films he started to make and which he did not manage to sell. It was not that Victor’s people had caught on - if they ever did.
He stopped last employee Anne Hemenway’s 100 $ I had given her at x-mas. The 25 k did not pay for the screen rights to Under the Volcano which he stole from my friend the Spanish film maker, Gonzalo de Herralde Grau. I later checked with the screen writer, Guy Gallo – his dealings involved a simple 1 k option initially,
Schulz stole once more when the firm was in bankruptcy was caught and then never showed up at another hearing.
Meanwhile I had kept the firm going by pledging to be good for half the debt to our main printer, the George Banta Co. in Nina-Menosha, darling people. Wanting to get that debt - $80,000 k - off my shoulder I finally served Schulz with a lawsuit and what do you know, the fellow turned blue and ran; and I won the suit without the slightest opposition; and Schulz did not get himself a lawyer until the U.S Marshall had posted his mews announcing sale of his assets! At which point there is the first duces tecum [discovery of assets] hearing at the office of the George Banta lawyer. Kilsheimer – Schulz congratulated me for bringing him down and winning the suit – the sadist turns out to be a masochist of the most disgusting kind, as someone who had been intimate in his affairs also confirmed later on. Kilsheimer refused to prosecute for perjury – endless perjury at the first and at the subsequent second duces hearing once Schulz had madeUnder Volcano with Houston directing in Mexico and been caught pulling the same kind of financial shenanigans, duplicate and false invoices, sluiced investments; and got caught and ended up with nothing. I had warned Houston’s producer Michael Fitzgerald. Schulz tried the same stuff when he and Chris Sievernich produced a film based on Joyce’sThe Dead.
To get back to Charles and alkaloid for an important moment. Charles was distributing Colombian material. At one point one of men who were controlling him made a proposition having to do with Leo Feldberg and Fructo and Urzizen being a perfect vehicle for importing substantial quantities via printed material too – and I nearly agreed . But I realized that though I would enter the so-called “big time” in more ways than one – it would not end well, not unless I decided to join FARC in one of their jungle hideouts. So begged off, I said I was scared, I didn’t think Urizen made sense if I went into business with FARC and Pablo Escobar. And the revolution does not make sense along those lines – once hooked it will never get off the vice. - However, all the mobs and the Colombians knew and dealt with each other I realized – just a few steps and you can be in the middle of the depth of it. I still shudder when I think how close I came to taking that step.
Something else transpire around that time that led to my eventual arrest. Charles called and asked me to make a call to someone you may have known as a bar-tender at Barnabus Rex and then at Mickeyss – Peter Pearl. Sure, I made a call telling Peter where and when he could pick up a kilo of the stuff. And then something went wrong at that transaction, Charles called to ask me whether I had any idea. And that was bothersome – how could I. I had lunch with him and a new partner of his at Patsy’s the uptown restaurant that I used to lunch with Robert Silvers and then I had nothing further to do with Charles, or alkaloids, and his book was not finished either. The deal had not involved money – or I suspect I would have spent some time in jail. But it constitutes possession -and I was not going to fight the entrapment, there were indications that the folks who had turned Charles around - especially his so-called “new partner” [ a DEA Agent] it turned out also knew of other matters of mine along the line. By the time I was arrested and let go but convicted I hadn’t had anything to do with alkaloids for several years. But what a look I got into the depth of corruption! And it was then that I decided that I better see a shrink!