Peter Occhiogrosso Associate Editor & Music Editor
Peter O
Peter & Wendy O. Williams 11/1979
My Best Cover Story
At play in the fields of the Lord with early spiritual adviser Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics. Photo ©2002 Allan Tannenbaum
Peter O. on his tenure at the SoHo weekly News:
When I started writing for SWN in 1974, it was just another gig, another ten bucks a week to help pay the rent. At the time, I was also writing about jazz for the Village Voice, Playboy, down beat, and half a dozen smaller publications, but SWN represented a chance to get in at the beginning. And it was the kind of publishing atmosphere that grew on you—like, as they say, a fungus. I became enchanted with the low-rent surroundings and the opportunity to have my pieces edited by the irascible Jaakov Kohn, as he regaled me with stories of his experiences in the Israeli army and running the East Village Other. Who cared about getting paid? I was just happy to have an outlet for my stories about the lesser-known, often avant-garde musicians that no other periodical was interested in. And then there was the warm camaraderie and the inevitable extra-curricular activities in the basement. It was almost, dare I say, idyllic. In time I clawed my way up the ladder to become Music Editor (mainly because the original Music Editor, Danny Fields, actually had to earn a living elsewhere), and with that plum came the princely salary of $20 a week.
Rexamining my religious roots during Catholic Night at the Mudd, with interfaith rabbi and publicist Sari Becker in 1979...

Then my unemployment benefits were cut off and I finally had to pressure the publisher for some real money. "As Music Editor", I pleaded, "I need at least $50 a week, Michael."

"Okay," Michael said. "But I'll have to defer $30 of that."

And so it went. Even then, I guess I was a seeker, striving to understand the master plan of the journalistic universe and my place in it. That place turned out to be low on the totem pole, under financed and overworked. But it had its rewards, the perks that went with life in the half-fast lane, the glamorous circuit of the alternative music journalist, so assiduously documented in Boo's candid photographs. All culminating in, well, being out of a job when the paper was shuttered in 1982. This rude shock was followed by a prolonged Dark Night of the Soul, during which I examined alternative paths to solvency, moved to Woodstock, discovered cross-country skiing, and began writing books. And the rest, as they say, is histrionics.

Photo ©2002 Allan Tannenbaum

...which gave me the authority to write books and have a web site about religion