It was fire inspectors who got us. We were evicted the next spring in a city-wide hunt for artists living in illegal factory spaces.
The disaster had started far away and initially involved no one we knew. There had been a bad fire in a building on lower Broadway, a dangerous multi-alarm blaze that threatened other buildings and injured some firemen. It caused a hue and cry about fire inspections as it was soon clear that the burned building was full of violations—rubbish clogged stairwells, broken fire alarms. There were newspaper editorials and accusations of pay-offs.
Abruptly the scandal shifted. Fire inspectors discovered that artists—families! some with children!—were living not in the building that burned but in nearby lofts zoned light manufacturing. The tabloids ran shrieking headlines. No one knew that people were living there. Suddenly focus shifted from corruption in the fire department to something suspect in the department of buildings.
And a witch-hunt was on. Artists were to be hunted out from where we were hiding and saved from ourselves.
No one was being disappeared. No one was being put into boxcars. But the evictions were swift, unfightable, and terrifying. There would be pounding at the door, sometimes at night. Uniformed police accompanied the building inspectors. Seventy-two hours to clear out. Boom. No appeal. Every week we’d hear that more poor bastards got it.
From Outside Inside, Chapter 10, "Ferry Year"
Martha King completed her memoir Outside Inside in 2014 and has been publishing sections online. Publication of the whole book is (as it’s said) being sought!
Advance excitement about “Outside Inside”
The book is…an incredible picture of life in the art/writing scene over that period. A great picture too of New York.
I'd been reading part of Edmund Wilson's diaries which gives a detailed account of the city some thirty years [earlier]. [Martha King’s] account is just as sharp and dense with detail….it’s the period just before the money people completely took over. I like the take on the sixties counter-culture, its naivety in being part of the advance of capital without knowing it. And I think that what it says about women in that period (or now for that matter) is absolutely on the money.
[The] chapter about Wieners and his junkie friends…there really aren't any depictions out there of what Wieners was like at this moment in time, outside of his letters.
…The Olson chapter—with that terrific dialogue about him with Baz—is revelatory. [Martha King] gets at the ambivalence so many people felt towards Olson in such an incisive way.
—Michael Seth Stewart
The picture of San Francisco life at a certain moment in the mid fifties has not been equalled elsewhere…. It IS funny how the account of how a wedding is staged brings out the contrasts in society, brings them to the fore, under the sharpest imaginable light.
Online and periodical publications
"It Starts to Drizzle" from Outside Inside (in Local Knowledge 2 print only)
"Seventy Years ago in the South" (prose, text)
"True Stories from Lynchburg" (prose, text)
"A Wedding" from Outside Inside (prose, text)
"Another Summer of Poverty" from Outside Inside (prose, text)
"A Berth in the Haven" from Outside Inside (prose, text)
"War – 1967" from Outside Inside (prose, text)
"Three Months When I was 18" from Outside Inside (prose, text)
Imperfect Fit (poetry collection)
North & South (prose collection)
Critique on Paul Blackburn (text)