V. Vale  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

V. "Valhalla" Vale (born January 30, 1944) is an American editor, writer, interviewer, musician and, as Vale Hamanaka, was keyboardist for the initial configuration of Blue Cheer, before it became famous as a power trio. He is the publisher and primary contributor to books and magazines published by his company, RE/Search Publications. Vale is the host of the television talk show Counter Culture Hour on Public-access television cable TV channel 29 in San Francisco. The show is edited by his partner Marian Wallace. Vale is Japanese-American.


Early life

Vale was born on January 30, 1944 to actor Kiyoshi Conrad Hamanaka and Mary Takaoka of the Vaudeville group Taka Sisters (Myrtle, Mary, Midi).

The Taka Sisters broke up after the murder of Vale's aunt Midi Taka in 1936. Vale has two younger sisters; musician/singer Lionelle Hamanaka, and children's author and illustrator Sheila Hamanaka.

By 1966 Vale received a bachelor's degree in English Literature at University of California, Berkeley and moved to Haight-Ashbury.


In 1977, while working at City Lights Bookstore, with $100 donated each by Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, he began publication of Search and Destroy, a San Francisco-based zine documenting the then-current punk subculture. In 1980, he began publication of RE/Search, a tabloid format zine focusing on various counterculture and underground topics, with financial help from Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records and actress/film director Betty Thomas. At the same time he also started his own typesetting business, allowing for a day job to fund his publishing exploits and guaranteeing high quality typography and design for his magazines and books.

The 1980s saw the expansion of RE/Search books from tabloid-formatted zines to academically-modeled books. Vale published and contributed to many books on the subjects of pranks, obscure music and films, industrial culture, authors J.G. Ballard and William S. Burroughs, modern primitives, and many other underground topics. In 1991, Vale sold his typography business to focus on publishing full-time.

Vale, influenced by and well read in cultural anthropology, describes his focus for writing: (I have) "this weird theory that there's only 1000 interesting people on this planet that I refer to as primary source thinkers. It's my job to find them. I'm just after something that lasts longer, not "high sugar fluff" as Henry Rollins put it. I want something I don't get right away. One of my favorite phrases, and I heard this from William Burroughs, is "belief is the enemy of knowledge."

Along with writing and distributing, Vale tours nationally giving talks about his career and provides guidance to DIY and Indie artists about book publishing. In 2012, Henry Rollins interviewed Vale at LA ZineFest.


As of 2017, both artist and musician Florian-Ayala Fauna and science fiction author Bruce Sterling are sponsors for V. Vale's RE/Search newsletter.


Vale is featured in the 2016 nerd culture documentary Traceroute by Johannes Grenzfurthner, a frequent collaborator of RE/Search.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "V. Vale" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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