Letera Mort

Harvey Job Matusow
(1926-2002)

This is a quasi-official response (after reading his obituary),
from some of us who knew Harvey Job Matusow in London.
Compiled and unedited by The 3rd Page

Dear Hammond,

Thanks for sending me this highly sanitized, and very fanciful summary of Harvey's life which bears all the hallmarks of having been written by HM himself as a final piece of spin while on his deathbed. Needless to say he had no significant part in the founding of the London Filmmakers Coop or International Times, and I very much doubt his claim of East Village Other. God knows what other truths may be hidden here but - you can't judge a book by looking at the cover, and this is a very complex book. Shakespeare said something like: The good that men do is oft interred with their bones, the evil lives on after them.

Best- J.H.H.


The story of a man's life begins with his death.
Jose Marti


Dear Hammond

I never had nor sought the opportunity to know Harvey Matusow. My impression of him was gleaned from the news accounts of the 1950s. So far as I could surmise, he was a prime example of really bad karma: He enthusiastically lied that he'd known people like Christopher Jencks of the Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers Union to be a member of the Communist Party;which resulted in Jencks being sent to prison for allegedly having perjured himself when, as a union official, he was required to sign a non-Communist affidavit under the Taft-Hartley Labor Relations Act. Matusow wasn't an "Informer," he was a LIAR; and did so in order to make a career for himself as a "Red Menace" witch hunter. His marriage to Arvila Bentley came about when, along with the late Roy Cohn, having become one of Joe McCarthy's flunkies, he was instructed to take her to Cuba in order to avoid her being called up to testify about the illegal financial support she'd provided "Tail Gunner Joe." Instead of just helping her stay outside of subpoena range, he married her in Havana - a marriage which was annulled when she got back to the USA. Incidentally, Arvila's right-wing ex-husband, Rep. Bentley, was the most seriously wounded among five Congressmen who were shot by Lolita Lebrun and the other Puerto Rican nationalists on the floor of the House of Representatives during their vote on the Mexican Labor Bill authored by said Rep. Bentley back in 1954 or so. When McCarthy's star began to fade after every candidate he'd supported in the 1954 elections either lost their race or lost votes, Matusow tried to switch sides - claiming that he'd lied about Jencks's membership in the CP.

Unfortunately for him, Judge Thomason ruled that Matusow had been telling the truth about Jencks et al when he'd first testified for the prosecution, but was now lying when he said that he'd lied, and thus found him guilty of perjury.

What you have to give the schmuck credit for is his enormous hutzpah (hubris), especially in boasting about his "yiddishness," since he was the epitomy of deceitful opportunism. Had he not died, he might well have jumped on the Patriot Act bandwagon and tried to score by anointing himself a former secret agent of Bin Laden, or perhaps a surviving fireman from the WTC? Someone will probably commemorate him in a musical comedy titled 'The Rat's Song.'

If he's lucky his soul will go to hell, because if he goes to heaven he'll have the shit kicked out of him for eternity by those he helped screw over.

Sincerely,
Bob


The official HJM obituary from Claremont, NH -

Harvey Job Matusow, 75 of Sugar River Mills in Claremont died Thursday (January 17, 2002) at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH from complications following an automobile accident earlier this month. He was born in the Bronx, NY on October 3, 1926 the son of Herman J. and Sylvia (Stolpen) Matusow. He was educated in New York City Public Schools. He was best known as being an actor, author and humanitarian. He invented CockyBoo the Clown, the Stringless Yo-Yo and the Magic Mouse Children's Television Show. He had been involved in theater, comedy, and drama since he was 12 years old. He worked in radio and television starting in 1947 and made appearances on the Mike Douglas Show, Howdy Doody Show. He founded the London Film Makes Co-Op and appeared in Young Guns 2, Young Riders TV, Iron Eagle III and Shadow Hunter. He helped create America's and the Worlds first underground counterculture newspaper of the 1960's, THE EAST VILLAGE OTHER and co founded the first counter culture newspaper in London, IT (THE INTERNATIONAL TIMES), edited the AMERICAN, a weekly newspaper for Americans living in London. He was the author of 4 books, released 7 albums or CD's. He was the executive director of SCAT-TV, the only public access television in the State of Utah, and also served as executive director of Claremont's own CCTV Channel 8. He was a veteran of WWII. Members of his family include his wife; Irene (Gibson) Matusow , Claremont, NH whom he married on November 17, 2001, 2 sons; George Matusow and Charles Matusow both of Massachusetts, a daughter; Anne Matusow of Nevada, 1 grandson, several cousins, step children and a multitude of close friends to numerous to mention. He was predeceased by his parents, a brother; Danny Matusow who was killed in action during WWII, and his former wife; Emily Matusow. Funeral services will be held at 2:00 PM on Monday in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Ascutney, VT with the Rev. Harold Altmayer, High Priest of the State Council, officiating. Visiting hours will be from 1PM until time of services at the Church. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Roy Funeral Home, 93 Sullivan Street, Claremont, NH.


Continuing Letera Mort -


From Mal Humes
[HJM's friend and estate assoc.]

Dear All -

The obituary was, course, drawn from material written by Harvey. The funeral home took info from a few of his C.V.'s. Some other papers did a slightly different take, largely on his working with Senator Joe McCarthy.

This is not intended as any sort of flame, or to defend Harvey's claim he was involved in IT's founding... just some background and questions from someone who hopes to sort out some of the trails Harvey left. I've got the curious distinction of possibly being his biographer of sorts and as you say, it's a complex book. At least I'm willing and interested in researching the London era and understanding it better and seeking perspectives from others who were there. And I'm not afraid to try to discriminate between what was true, what was fiction and what was exaggerated in the many tales Harvey told. I have no desire to re-write the history of IT.

On the contrary, I'm much interested in seeing a well documented history of IT on the Web as it's hard to find much info, and I have the possibility of using Jonathon Green's manuscript and interviews from Days of the Life as I did with the pages on Freinds/Frendz, if Jonathon permits.

Time permitting, I may pursue documenting more on IT and OZ totally independent of my work on Matusow. Calling this work is a misnomer, this is purely a labor of love for me with no financial gain likely. I find myself in an odd position of trying to help get the auto-biography of a friend published, and probably as initial editor of any of his works to see publication. And I'm facing the problem of sorting through the stories and claims to see what I can make of them.

I found Harvey fascinating and loved him, but I take it all with a grain of salt, not just assuming what he says is accurate. Like any hustler, I'm amused and trusting enough to hear him out, but wary of him also. He politely hustled $20 gas money and dinner for him and a friend the first time I met him face to face.

I'm working on a video documentary on Harvey Job Matusow, based in part on interviews with him. And I want to balance out what he says with others. I welcome NTSC video submissions of any of you discussing anything about Harvey for possible inclusion in that project, or for verification or disputing any of his claims.

I've interviewed around a dozen folks who knew him in various walks of life. I contacted Anna, she declined. John Lifton is willing but distant, I think actually in the UK right now. Heard from Gee recently also. Other than you folks I haven't tracked down anyone who knew him in his London days.

I'd actually also love to see contributions from any of you towards his autobiography... a forward, chapters about Harvey, anything you'd be willing to offer would be welcomed. I have a sincere interest in fact-checking as many of Harvey's incredible claims as I can. I am sure some are exaggerated but I think if he was bs'ing he often believed his own bull.

I tweaked the I.T. reference to reflect what I thought was more accurate after recently e-mailing you so there it reads: "...and then was loosely involved in the founding of the first counter culture newspaper in London, IT (International Times) I didn't want to start re-writing his stories too much just yet and the obit already made the founder claim.

IT (International Times )

I contacted Hoppy and Jim Haynes recently trying to verify some of the claims before Harvey even ended up hospitalized. I've delved into what I can find by mailing you, Alexander Gross and Jim Haynes to ask about the odd Greater London Other petition that had Harvey's name on it with the rest of the board of I.T., which I found lurking in his files in the archives at Sussex. Jim was dismissive and claimed I.T. was his idea, and that Matusow absolutely was not involved.

I've got Jonathon Green's Days in the Life chapter on I.T., and the full unedited manuscript of his book's interviews. I'm currently reading Jim Haynes "Thanks For Coming!" And I anxiously await the rumored in-the-works book on I.T. by Miles if that's really in the works. Alex Gross just remembers Harvey later as a writer and friend but also insists he was not a "founder". I don't disput that but am still a bit curious about the doc I found in his files that suggests he almost was on the board of IT, months before it was published.

Based on one excerpt in Days in the Life that doesn't name Harvey by name but talks about someone who'd been involved with EVO, it sounds likely he was just around getting stoned one day when the birth of I.T. was being discussed. The mysterious Greater London Other petition/manifesto from Harvey's files seems to also support this and could easily be mistaken for evidence he was a "founder." You previously admitted you wrote this GLO document, or some of it, then removed his name when others objected, but you also described this as an insignificant blip in the birth of IT. I've attached your e-mail below, as you said I could quote it, only in full.

You said you wrote the "header" -- I'm still not clear if you actually meantyou wrote the whole thing, or if you were suggesting Harvey forged something based on what you wrote and planted it in his archives at Sussex University 30 years ago. I know he at times forged ID cards and who knows what else. I know that this doesn't constitute evidence he helped found IT and that his role was, if anything, minimal. Still, it appears he was at least present at discussions prior to publication of IT. I'll agree his involvement was apparently insignificant but it sure looks like he would have been more involved if he'd been permitted. Since mentioning IT was apparently important to Harvey I don't want to remove any references to it. I have yet to find if he's written any chapters specifically related to IT that are lurking in his files. I'd enjoy the opportunity to have you offer your perspectives while you're all still here to ask.


THE LONDON FILMAKERS COOP


For what it's worth, Harvey claimed he'd been the sole incorporator and founder of the London Film Co-Op. He claimed others were discussing it but that he went and filed the papers and came back to the rest and said it was done. I don't know how to easily verify this one, but I suspect there's some truth to it and he was clear on video that it wasn't just him, but felt he was the catalyst that got up and did something to get it rolling officially when others were just talking about it. If this is inaccurate I'd love to get more info or contact with others who can offer a better perspective. I even mailed Yoko a letter as I know she was involved in film in London around this time and knew Matusow from New York, but I don't really expect a response.


EVO

Regarding the East Village Other, in interviews he said he hadn't founded it but had been there from the beginning. He claims he started the rumor that smoking banana peels gets you high while there, which is another one I'd love to verify. I know he and Walter Bowart, who did found EVO, were close and that Harvey lived with him for a while years later. Alex Gross tried to help me track Bowart down but he's moved and leads and current searches on the net suggest Bowart is raving about conspiracies, UFOs, claiming he's writing a film script for Oliver Stone, and generating complaints that he's a con artist ripping folks off and not mailing what they paid for. I hope to track him down and see what he has to say about EVO and Harvey's role. Again, I welcome leads to anyone else involved. Anyway, if it's not a bother to contribute to my video documentary or towards Matusow's yet-to-be-completed auto-biography, please do! I welcome any info and perspectives.

lots of love,

Mal


From John 'Hoppy' Hopkins
[co-founder of IT and The Arts Lab]

Dear Mal,

The header on the statement you found in Univ. Sussex was written by me after some meetings with other people involved. Immediately I showed it to Jim Haynes and Jack Moore (Jim's co-worker) they threw up and said they would never work on anything with Matusow and would not have their namesassociated with him in public or in private. I immediately had to withdraw and rewrite it excluding any mention of Matusow.

The reason they were so against him was they were American and Matusow had shopped countless people on false evidence for Joe McCarthy which they deeply resented and as far as I know still do. Harvey's attempts to ingratiate himself with what became the psychedelic underground by referring to his later volte face and confession as if it was a heroic act were, in retrospect, pretty sickening.

I do not think Matusow should be associated with IT (first published Oct. 30th 1966) if you are once again rewriting the myths of the 60's. He was one of many self-selected people who wanted to do something to fill the media gap. My header was a temporary blip caused by my impetuousness in not consulting others before putting pen to paper and lasted not more than a day or two.

Personally I always found Harvey charming and friendly. He once gave me a silver and turquoise ring he was wearing while we were both on a trip. When I was in jail my girlfriend Susie [Creamcheese] put it on my finger during a visit and no-one noticed. I then had the interesting problem of getting it OUT of jail with me at the end of my sentence!

I eventually gave it to Alex W-W, an ex-prostitute and ex-junkie who is now sadly dead. However Harvey's ability to bullshit (spin is todays word) meant that many people couldn't quite trust whatever his story was, although he was a brilliant hustler with a fine sense of humour and pulled some monumental strokes. Clearly a very clever cat. Your are welcome to quote this e-mail but only if you use the whole thing and not just the part you want.

BW - Hoppy.


From Miles:
[co-founder of IT (International Times]

Dear Hammond,

Harvey Matusow had nothing at all to do with founding of IT
and it's very boring to have to now justify this fact to everyone.
Harvey's being a pain in the ass even after his death. Typical.

Miles

From Jim Haynes:
[founder of The Arts Lab]

Dear Mal,

I don't think I have seen the document before and Harvey was NOT involved in the early meetings to create "I.T." The early meetings were only Jack, Hoppy, Miles, myself and from time to time Michael Henshaw. Period. I paid the first printing bill as well as getting Penguin to take out an advert. I just remember Harvey as a highly suspicious character. I never trusted him because I had heard lots of bizarre stories about him before the House on Un-American Activities Committee.

Where is he now?

Jim Haynes


From Mal -

I received an unexpected response from Pete Seeger in the form of a brief note, which surprised me after previously receiving a letter from his wife declining an interview with Pete. Harvey had noted that the last time he saw Pete in 1965 he was friendly and forgiving but his wife and friends were not, so I suspected she was buffering me from any actual contact with him. I'm guessing he found the letter I wrote, or had second thoughts after Harvey's death was in the news.

It reads:

Mal!

Poor Harvey never hurt me except to cost me a few jobs. He must have paid many times for his youthful foolishness. Read my book 'Where Have All the Flowers Gone' (Sing Out Publishers, 610-865-5366) to find out my opinions about communism, Stalinism, etc. Or phone me at XXX-XXX-XXXX." - Pete

Needless to say it was a pleasant surprise to see the invitation to give him a call. I think he's in his upper 80's now. I ordered the book today. Also I received a nice letter on Matusow from William Levy, who was an editor of IT and who co-founded the radical European sex magazine SUCK.

Mal


From Bill Levy
[former editor of IT]

Dear Mal,

I knew Harvey Matusow well during the London daze. But from about early '68 to late '69 we saw each other regularly, both in his house in Hammersmith, which he shared with Annea Lockwood, and my flat near Primrose Hill. During that period, Harvey and I spoke extensively of many things including the intense anti-Communist McCarthy time as well as his imprisonment in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary and a peripheral contact with Wilhelm Reich. We were going to write a book together about the Joys of Corruption. That never happened. But I did write a long review of his LP "The War Between the Fats and Thins".

As I recall, it filled a whole tabloid page of IT and was signed with one of my pseudonym "Elmer Swink". I think it must have been during the spring of '69. After I relocated in Amsterdam in 1970, we continued to keep in touch for a number of years. Don't remember how long. For that, I would have to look into my archives. Trebitsch Lincloln is the historical person who shares a lot with Harvey Matusow. See "The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln" by Bernard Wasserstein (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988).

Like Harvey, Jonathon Greed is a convicted libeler. Yet, unlike Harvey his is motivated only by class envy and sex fear, everything the sixties were not. The book, "The Days in the Life", is almost worthless and because of that will be quoted forever.

Best of luck with your researches,

Bill Levy


HJMAnondendum

Who is Matusow? I don't know this name.

Some people don't want to be associated with HJM dead or alive.

Never mind the rest - I covet my Stringless Yo-Yo!

The man was an ego-centric miasma, a sinister rodent with a serial propensity for lying through his teeth and as you well know! - due to his behavioral aberations and maniacal HUAC testimony, scores of perfectly innocent people had their lives ruined or were in fact jailed because of Harvey's pathetic need to be recognized.

Yes Hammond - I knew him well. Though many of note would scream at me for saying so - in the end Harvey Job Matusow was a socially generous, good natured sweetheart of a man (though always Harvey). In his later years H. Job Matusow tried to atone for some of his earlier misdeeds by unselfishly helping others - most notably - homeless Native American survivors. I can not (I would never!) attempt to defend or explain the reasons why for his infamous activities with McCarthy, HUAC, FBI, or any other Orwellian intelligence branch or underground publication.) - nor can I offer any insight whatsoever into his (at times comic) habit of creating extravagant situations from whole cloth. The best that I can offer is that he started out as a stand-up comic, but so many of his self-incriminating routines have fallen flat, and at times quite hard upon their lies. What I can and will say, is that over the course of our knowing one another, Harvey was (as best as I can determine), open, warm hearted, infinitely creative, jovial, generous and generally forthcoming when put to press by his friends. Who I am to your readers is quite up to them. Anonymused

These are the most hilarious obituaries letters in the world. Ever!


3rd Page E Scape