New Age founder to present book, tales of underground journalism
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Paul Krehbiel was paranoid when he was a UB student. He felt threatened, in physical danger, many days.
In 1970, Krehbiel was a founder and one of the leaders of New Age – a UB-student-run publication that published controversial stories on the anti-war and social justice movements and lasted one year – which he described as “fiercely independent and radical.” Police in Buffalo frequently beat anyone they saw rebelling against the Vietnam War, according to Krehbiel, who is now 64.
Krehbiel’s memories of New Age were recently published in Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories from the Vietnam Era Underground Press (Part Two). The book is part of a four-volume anthology of first-hand stories about running underground newspapers across the country from 1965-73. Krehbiel – who is now retired in Pasadena, Calif. – will visit several locations in Buffalo this week to present the book and talk about what it was like running an underground newspaper. Though it wasn’t illegal to run the newspapers, many of the writers – who feared losing their jobs – were anonymous.
“[The writers] were voices that were primarily motivated by opposition to the war in Vietnam and in support of other liberal and left causes,” Krehbiel said. “Equality for blacks, Latinos, other minorities and women. It was a variety of progressive causes of the day that didn’t necessarily have the full support of all the people.”
Krehbiel, who grew up in Buffalo and went to local Kenmore West High School, wrote opinion columns for The Spectrum in the late ’60s and early ’70s. New Age’s founders solicited donations from their readership and always made just enough to print their 10,000-issue quota.
Krehbiel was primarily interested in art until he got a job at Standard Mirror, an old auto parts factory in 1968.
“My experience in that factory started to open my eyes politically,” Krehbiel said. “Initially, I believed everything we were told by the government and mass media about the war in Vietnam. I didn’t have any reason not to. But as I started to find out more about the war – either things I read or talking to people returning from the war – I started to paint a different picture.
“Those stories and a lot of others started to turn me against the war, and working in this factory, there were terrible working conditions. The management was kind of abusive toward the workers and the union was a wall between the abusive management and those of us who were working there. I got active in the union.”
Krehbiel left Standard Mirror and began taking classes at UB, where he met a handful of other radical students and professors.
“I really developed my political consciousness,” Krehbiel said.
The group formed New Age, which they distributed to mainly factories – the hot beds for the social justice movement – and other union workplaces around Buffalo.
He spouts jaw-dropping stories effortlessly and will give his first book presentation on Sunday at Riverside-Salem Church in Grand Island from 4 to 6 p.m.
“This is a book written by people who worked on underground newspapers at the time,” Krehbiel said. “Most of them are from my generation and now 40 years later, we’re reflecting on what it was like to put these papers out during that period.”
The Spectrum will publish a feature on Krehbiel and New Age later this semester.