First it was a NEWSPAPER,
Then it was a PRESS,
Then it was a GANG.
I worked at a neighborhood youth center and one day our fearless director barked at me, “Jumping butterballs, you’re supposed to be a writer, why don’t you start a center newspaper.”
“You betcha,” I meowed. This idea for a newspaper collected a bunch of oddball kids: Fat John, Ginzo, Pokey, Caggie, Lilley, et al. The painter Joe Brainard had suggested the newspaper’s name in another context: The SIAMESE BANANA from Vol. XXVII of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The paper’s motto became: If the Facts Don’t Fit, Change Them. After that it was easy to start up an artsy-literary press. The philosophy was simple: Writers and Artists, you have nothing to lose, so unite in the SB Press. The technology was easy: electronic stencils. Meanwhile, back in the ’hood, wiseguy newspaper kids got infected by literary bugs. But these kids were from the TV dope fiend generation. They wanted to form a gang. “How about a name?” “Exterminator Angels?” “No way!” “Military Gangsters from the Super Id?” “Fuck off, Mr. Stanton.” “Please, you guys, just call me Stanton.” “Okay Stanton, how about the SBG?” “Right on! The SBG. I’m a member.” We tore up and down every house we performed in. Kicked ass and then some. Ahead of our time and underneath it.
— Johnny Stanton, New York City, November 1997
Tom Veitch, Death College (1970). Cover by the author.
Siamese Banana books include
Anderson, David. Under Western Eyes. 1970.
Auster, Paul, trans. A Little Anthology of Surrealist Poems. 1972. Cover by George Schneeman.
Brainard, Joe. The Banana Book. 1972. Cover and drawings by the author.
Brainard, Joe. The Friendly Way. 1972. Cover and drawings by the author.
Brainard, Joe. Some Drawings of Some Notes to Myself. 1971.
Brainard, Joe, ed. The Cigarette Book. 1972. Cover by the editor.
Brainard, Joe, and Anne Waldman. Self Portrait. 1972.
Brown, Rebecca. Mouse Works. 1971. Cover and illustrations by Martha Diamond.
Cohen, Keith. Madness in Literature. 1970.
Obenzinger, Hilton. Thunder Road. 1970.
Stanton, Johnny. The Day Our Turtle Was Kidnaped—. 1978.
Veitch, Tom. Death College. 1970. Cover by the author.
Weingarten, Don. Lord Scum’s Hotel. 1971. Cover and illustrations by the author.
Joe Brainard, The Banana Book (1972). Cover and drawings by the author.