Notes From The Underground

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 104 in 2001.



Comandante Abraham Tzeltal (Delegate)

"We're going to the march and to Mexico City representing all the militant compa–eros and bases of support, in other words, our communities, to speak with other peoples and so that all of us together who are indigenous, and those who are not indigenous, can mobilize ourselves so that there will be no more disregard for us and there can be respect. To be indigenous, for me, is my flag, because we are descendants of those who first inhabited this MŽxico, that is to say, the first peoples. Later the rich and powerful came, and they kicked us off our lands and they even wanted to meddle in our customs. They succeeded at leaving us without land, but they could not take away our customs, and because of that we still have our language and we have our communities with our customs. That is what the congressmen and senators must make into law: respect for the fact that we are indigenous." -- Comandante Abraham


Comandanta Yolanda Tzotzil (Delegate)

"Our trip to Mexico City is very important and very grand for the nation and for the world, because we are going to give our word as Zapatistas and we are going to defend our rights as women and as indigenous people. We are going to present ourselves personally to the Congress of the Union, and we are going to propose exactly what we did when we signed the San AndrŽs Accords for indigenous rights and culture on February 16, 1996. In our path we will be speaking with thousands of honest men and women of MŽxico. And as an indigenous person I feel important as a Mexican, because we count with the history of our first parents, the fact that they were indigenous and they also fought, as we fight, to not disappear. It's just that their fight was different than ours, but we continue with the same idea of fighting and living. As indigenous women we are not going to give up the fight until we are recognized in the Constitution and we are no longer treated as animals." - Comandanta Yolanda


Comandante Bulmaro Chol (Delegate)

"We are going to Mexico City because we are obligated as delegates to comply with a mission that our people have charged us to do. We are going to defend the indigenous legislation elaborated by the Cocopa, so that it will be approved by the se–ores who are deputies and senators. We are also going to speak along the route of the march with national and international civil society and we are going to invite them to support us with their mobilizations. We are going to fight together with other indigenous peoples so that once and for all our rights are recognized. It is very important that they respect us as indigenous, because by its very nature this means that we are the first inhabitants of this great Mexican nation, and as such we are formed by people who have our own forms of organization, our culture, and our own language." - Comandante Bulmaro


Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos Mestizo Delegate

"We go to Mexico City through 12 states of the Republic because our objective is to speak with the Congress of the Union. But it is also to sepak with civil society and with the indian peoples of other parts of Mexico. We think that the struggle for indigenous rights is not just our own, it is of all the indigenous peoples of Mexico. We we also think that it is not only for the indigenous, but also for all Mexican men and women. This country has to recognize its original peoples, to accept them as they are and respect them. We are going to speak with the Congress of the Union because it's their turn to make law, and this law by the Cocopa means a great advance for the indian peoples of the entire country. Being indigenous today in Mexico means fighting for the respect and dignity of everyone who is excluded and under-valued. It means fighting for the indigenous, but also for women, youth, children, for homosexuals and lesbians, for the handicapped, for the elders, in the end, for everyone who is different."

For more profiles and updates on the Zapatista march go to:



Introduction to Barney Rosset given by Steve Wasserman (Los Angelos Times) on March 12, 2001 at New York University.

Barney Rosset I have never met the man we honor tonight. But, like so many of you, I feel I know him. And I know him in the best way possible: Through the intimate encounter with the authors he discovered, nurtured, and brilliantly published over the past fifty years: Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Jean Genet, Eugene Ionesco, D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marguerite Duras, William Burroughs, Harold Pinter, Che Guevara, Tom Stoppard, Malcolm X, Frantz Fanon, Donald Keene on Japanese literature, Eric Bentley's translations of Bertolt Brecht.

There is little doubt that when the history of twentieth-century publishing is written, his contribution looms large. Indeed, his literary and political proclivities both reflected and helped to define an historical era.

Nor should it be forgotten that his mischievous disposition was of a kind to confound and deny puritans and philistines of every stripe. Against all odds, and with daring and courage and tenacity, steadfastly opposed censorship and yahoos of every stripe. His libertarian--and indeed libertine--attitude toward sex was as refreshing as it was rare, even as it was discomforting, for some. It was subversive in an immediate postwar period given to the Cold War mores of a country and a citizenry still constrained by silence and hypocrisy. He fought and won legal and literary battles that enlarged the arena of free expression and publication.

And, to speak personally for a moment, I can say that I shall forever be grateful to him for enriching what might well have been an otherwise impoverished adolescence. I vividly remember discovering at age fourteen in a San Francisco bookstore that stupendous avalanche of Victorian erotica, "My Secret Life," in which I was delightfully exposed to a series of sexual escapades, which in their number and sheer physical complexity, staggered the imagination.

What counted most for this buccaneering publisher was less the number of dollars in the bank, than the numberof stars on his forehead. Possessed of unruly curiosities, profound respect for underdogs, a moral preference favoring have-nots over haves, he performed over five decades a kind of miracle: publishing new voices, scandalous voices, repressed voices. A taboo-breaker, fervent and even fevered in his passions and literary instincts, and utterly loyal to his writers, he acted as midwife to the birth of books that would, taken together, stand as a rebuke to the stodginess of received opinion, and a permanent challenge to the orthodoxies of the cultural and political establishment. He provided an engaged and engaging home to misfits of genius, and emboldened a generation of readers to turn themselves inside out and see the world with new eyes.

He was blessed with no gift for publishing strategy but, what was more important, a sensibility: naughty, rebellious, blasphemous, heretical. Moreover, like all good publishers he had an instinct for gifted editors and co-conspirators: Don Allen, Richard Seaver, Fred Jordan, Harry Braverman, Gilbert Sorrentino, Nat Sobel, Kent Carroll, Morrie Goldfisher, Jules Geller, Marilyn Meeker, and Roy Kuhlman, his incomparable designer.

Mere facts don't do justice to the man and his accomplishments. Especially in a corporate age which prizes docility over defiance, he stood for what has always been exemplary in publishing.

For the founding of Grove Press in 1951, the creation of Evergreen Review, among other inspired entrepreneurial efforts, that have immeasurably enriched the republic of letters, the National Book Critics Circle counts it a high honor and privilege to bestow, with gratitude and heartfelt thanks, the Ivan Sandroff Award for Lifetime Achievement to Barney Rosset.



An airplane was about to crash, and there were 5 passengers left, but only 4 parachutes. The first passenger, George W. Bush said, I am the President of the United States, and I have a great responsibility, being the leader of nearly 300 million people, and a superpower, etc., and I am also the smartest president ever. So he takes the first parachute, and jumps out of the plane.

The second passenger said, I'm Rasheed Wallace, one of the best basketball players in the NBA, and the Portland Trailblazers need me, so I can't afford to die. So he takes the second parachute, and leaves the plane.

The third passenger, Hillary Clinton, said; I am the wife of the former President of the United States, I am New York's Senator, and I am the smartest woman in the world. So she takes the third parachute and exits the plane.

The fourth passenger, an old man, says to the fifth passenger, a 10 year old boy scout, I am old and frail and I don't have many years left, so as a Christian gesture and a good deed, I will sacrifice my life and let you have the last parachute.

The boy scout said, It's okay, there's a parachute left for you. The world's smartest president took my backpack.