If you would
like a copy of Beat Scene 69, the current issue, click below.
French DVD of the Walter Salles film adaptation of ON THE ROAD this week.
For some reason I can't explain it wouldn't play on my fairly modern
television but played fine on my laptop. Being a French DVD it had subtitles
and I don't know whether it was my computer or what but there were some very
strange translation going on. You know, when they have subtitles on a TV and
it is kind of voice recognition thing happening. I'm pretty certain the word
'website' wasn't doing the rounds in 1949 America, but that was just one
example. The film? Well it does have some extra footage. Scenes at Kerouac's
father's funeral which didn't appear in the English version. The scenes at
the end of the English edition, of Neal walking the railroad tracks, has been
cut and there are some scenes of Jack in a 'black section' of town that in my
memory didn't show up in the English version. Not had time to look at the
'extras' that come with the DVD, but they are there. Guess for many people
watching the film on their sofa will be their only way of viewing the film.
What I will say is - see it and make your own mind up. Don't be swayed by
'critics.' In reading lots and lots of reviews of the film I get the distinct
impression that many are written by people of a certain younger age and
mindset. They have little understanding of the bigger picture and evolution
of the times and how the film was finally pushed over the line by Walter
Salles. It has many aspects that can be pulled apart, no arguments about
that, but there are positives. As I said, see it and then form your views. In
this age, DVD sales of any film will be a crucial element in the success or
otherwise. I'll be looking at it again in the coming weeks. And also looking
forward to BIG SUR and KILL YOUR DARLINGS.
Have mailed out pre-ordered copies of the Iain Sinclair chapbook
KITKIT: SEEING GARY SNYDER. This is number 38 in the chapbook series. An
edition of 150 signed and numbered copies. If you have ordered a copy you
should have your copy anytime now, allowing for airmail times to America.
UK, obviously a little sooner. I'm pleased with the edition and thank the
little band who seem to like them as they appear. If you would like to order
a copy there is a button below.
Just completed the Beat Scene 69 mailout. It has taken about two
weeks as usual. All subscriber copies should have reached their destination by now. Thank
you all subscribers, you are the guys that keep this little publication
alive. And thanks to a few of you who have written, emailed, even phoned, to
say you are enjoying the issue and one or two very good suggestions, ideas
for future issues. If I were to write an 'end of year report' it would, in
all honesty, speak of a fairly dramatic drop in sales of copies sold. It is
so disappointing. I honestly think the magazine is better than ever, treading a
fine line between an enthusiastic approach and a studious, careful approach -
showing respect for writers - without being starry eyed. If you know of
anyone who would like a copy - do let them know. I really do need a bit of help.
There is no lucrative advertising in the magazine, it isn't sponsored by some
grant or University department. It survives on copies sold. I get
a lot of people contacting me who want to be in the magazine but who
disappear over the horizon when I encourage them to pick up a copy. I never
hear from them again - until they want to be in the magazine again. Sorry to
introduce a downbeat note, but it is a recurring reality. You
subscribers are the foundations and sometimes your enthusiasm and kind
comments are very humbling. Thank you for your support throughout 2012. Work
is well progressed on our number 70 issue (+ two specials!). I'll try and
live up to the John Clellon Holmes logo I run along the bottom of each front
cover - 'This Is The Beat Generation' - (at least a little corner of it in
Beat Scene friend Nic Saunders who kindly pointed me in the direction of
this link to the film KILL YOUR DARLINGS. The comments seem very positive I
have to say. All very encouraging. Especially in light of the vague feeling
of disappointment over the On the Road film. Disappointment first because a
number of you have yet to see it, it hasn't arrived at a cinema in your
vicinity and again because those who have seen it are very mixed in your
takes on it. If we can overcome our reluctance to go and see a film starring
'Harry Potter,' it seems we might just find a decent film on show. I'll
believe it when I see it.
link to one of my favourite American poets. A man very much alive,
reasonably well and kicking in a poetic sense. David Meltzer.
(pictured here with wife Julie). He's featured in the pages of Beat Scene and
in my little Transit magazine. He goes back a few years, from a time when he
had dreams of a music career with his late wife Tina and the band Serpent
Power. Here he is in conversation with editor Garrett Caples. It features on
the City Lights Bookstore site.
What with On the Road, Kill
Your Darlings, Big Sur hogging the headlines, a new documentary - Neal Cassady - the Denver
Years - reaches the last few hurdles and reaches some cinemas. A
documentary made by a young woman, Heather Dalton, who actually grew up on the same Denver
streets as Neal. It surely deserves as much, if not more, attention than the bigger
budget movies. Go here to find out a little more about it. And maybe even
badger your local art cinema to screen it.
Below there are
words from Linda Holmes on the Salles film of On the Road, it is not positive
about the movie by any stretch of the imagination. To provide some balance
I'm including words from George Koumantzelis about both the book and the
film, he radiates good feelings. You might recognise the name, John
Koumantzelis was Kerouac's good Lowell friend growing up, he died in the
Second World War. George is his nephew I understand. He chooses some
beautiful passages to illustrate his points. Amply demonstrating just where
Jack Kerouac writes from. You may puzzle at his enthusiasm for the film, you
may understand. Up to you. It is a lengthy essay. Read on MacDuff.
A Book and Movie review of Jack Kerouac’s “ON THE
ROAD – The Original Scroll”
I bought this book on August 19, 2007 after it was
first published. I began to read it on January 8, 2013 (my cousin Ted’s
birthday) and finished reading it on January 14th, 2013 at 3:00
am in the morning - in preparation to see the movie!
On January 14, 2013, the official Jack Kerouac group
in Lowell Massachusetts called “Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!” was scheduled
to make a caravan trek into Boston to the AMC theater at the Boston Common
on Tremont Street to see the movie made of the famous novel, ON THE ROAD,
by Jack Kerouac – our belated and well-loved friend and literary mentor.
Some of us had been waiting since 1957 to see this movie. It was a long
time coming – and well worth the wait.
Jack Kerouac first wrote the original scroll version
of ON THE ROAD in April of 1951 – but he had been working on it for years.
According to the seven introductory prefaces to the “Scroll” version of ON
THE ROAD, Jack Kerouac spent years of his life between 1947 and 1957
“researching, “working on, writing, editing, re-writing, and trying to get
this book published. He believed in this book. To Jack Kerouac, it was not
just his literary “baby” and second novel; it was a whole new way of
approaching the art of writing in general and a whole new way of creating
“the great American novel” in particular. Time has proven him right.
As my uncle, Billy Koumantzelis – who was a very close
friend of Jack’s in the later years of his life while living in Lowell –
said in the White Eagle Café where we all met in Lowell before embarking
on out to Boston to see the movie, that it was “time Jack got his due.”
He was very pleased that the movie finally came out and that it was made so
well – as a professional, dramatic, major motion picture about the life “on
the road” that was immortalized in the book by his long lost friend. Make
no mistake about it: ON THE ROAD is a great American novel – and this movie
has done it justice.
During a recent phone conversation that I had with Mr.
John Sampas – a man of true class and Jack Kerouac’s brother-in-law who
looks over the Estate of Jack’s literary legacy – John said that he was
very pleased with the work that was published by the four writers who he
commissioned to write the introductory prefaces to “the original scroll”
version of Jack’s book. These introductory passages are as important to
read as the book itself – and should be read before reading
the book, as they elucidate both the circumstances surrounding Jack
Kerouac’s life at the time between the years of 1946 and 1951 as well as
the subsequent history and , now, mythological status of the creation of ON
The four writers who write the introductory prefaces
to the scroll version of ON THE ROAD should all be commended for helping us
all understand the whole story about this book. They are: Howard Cunnell,
Penny Vlagopoulos, George Mouratidis, and Joshua Kuppets. They all – each
and every one of them – make excellent points in their essays and their
contributions to this publication are formidable and substantial. I would
not have appreciated the book – or the movie – as much as I did if I
had not first read their introductory prefaces or essays. They were all
very good. Because of their work, I learned that there are actually four
different versions of ON THE ROAD: the original scroll version of
1951; a second, shorter, later, edited version to please the
publisher;, a third, longer, later version that includes many pages
of what was later to be published as VISIONS OF CODY; and the regular,
traditional, well-known, edited version of the “Cody” third version that
was finally published in 1957 by Viking Press. This book had definitely
been put through the ringer!
If you are going to read ON THE ROAD, you absolutely
must read the original scroll version that was published in 2007 by
Viking Press / The Penguin Group with the blessings of John Sampas,
Literary Representative of the Estate of Stella Sampas Kerouac; John Lash,
Executor of the Estate of Jan Kerouac (Jack’s deceased daughter); Nancy
Bump; and Anthony M. Sampas (my old friend, Tony – and the nephew of the
elder and now deceased Tony Sampas of “Nicky’s Bar” where Jack hung out in
Lowell with Tony and his friend Billy Koumantzelis, now called “Ricardo’s”)
– who all own the combined Copyrights to the book. Bless their hearts for
finally releasing this for the world to read – as well as for allowing the
original scroll itself to be exhibited in Lowell, Massachusetts at the Boot
Mills Museum of the Lowell Historical National Park at the confluence of
John and French Streets, right up the block from the Jack Kerouac Park
where the beautiful monuments by the sculptor, Ben Woitena, pay tribute to
the literary legacy of Lowell’s most famous son.
I read the regular version of ON THE ROAD as a
paperback in January of 1974. Let it be known right here and now: there is
no comparison! When you read the original scroll version, it is just like
Jack is talking to you. No kidding. It is not hard to read; it is
not hard to understand; it is not boring and vulgar and crazy. People who
say that don’t know what they are talking about. People who say that are
intellectually lazy, literally ignorant, and just plain stupid. They got it
all wrong! If anything, it is very lucid, very comprehensive, and very
descriptive of the main character’s internal thoughts as well as of his
surroundings. He captures America as it is. His scope is as deep as the
Grand Canyon and as wide as the Mississippi River (which he loved like the
Merrimack, according to Roger Brunelle). His writing is panoramic and
cinematographic. It is as if he thinks like a panning, moving, movie
camera – but one which makes the deepest and most descriptive audio
commentary along the way of both the external surroundings as well as of
the narrator’s deepest thoughts and feelings concerning and influenced by
those surroundings. It is truly incredible writing. Also: it is funny
as hell. … Jack Kerouac had a great sense of humor; that comes across
explicitly when you are reading the scroll. His passion and compassion are
profound. He is not just a man of words. He is not just a man about town.
He is a man on a mission – a mission to immortalize America as he saw it
and as he and his buddies experienced it.
Check out this great Footnote from the bottom of page
32 of Howard Cunnell’s excellent introductory essay, “Fast This Time:
Jack Kerouac and the Writing of On the Road”:
*Interviewed in the documentary On the Road to
Desolation (David Stewart, dir., BBC / NVC Arts Corporation, 1997), Giroux
said: “I would say in the first half of 1951, I was at my desk at Harcourt,
Brace, and the phone rang and it was Jack, and he said, ‘Bob, I’ve finished
it!’ and I said, ‘Oh great, Jack, that’s wonderful news.’ He said, ‘I want
to come over.’ I said, ‘What, right now?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I have to see
you, I have to show you …’ I said, ‘Okay, come on, come over to the
office.’ We were on Forty-sixth Street and Madison Avenue. He came into the
office looking … high, looking, you know … drunk, and he had a big roll of
paper, like a paper towel like you use in the kitchen, big roll of paper
under his left arm, and he was, you know … This was a great moment for him,
I understood that. He took one end of the roll and he flung it right across
my office like a big piece of confetti, right across my desk, and I
thought, ‘This is a strange manuscript. I’ve never seen a manuscript like
this.” And he looked at me, waiting for me to say something. I said, ‘Jack,
you know you have to cut this up. It has to be edited.’ And his face
flushed, and he said, “There’ll be no editing on this manuscript.’ I said,
‘Why not, Jack?’ He said, ‘This manuscript has been directed by the Holy
There are numerous notes of multiple examples from
these introductory pages that I took which add even further illumination
onto the writing of this book – and the inspiration of this movie, which
the director and the filmmaker used as his guide in the creation of the
film, even having come to Lowell to see the Scroll with his own eyes when
it was on exhibit and, as my friend Mike Flynn recently noted in his essay
in Howl In Lowell on the journey to see the film, was a great turning point
and “Eureka!” moment for Walter Salles in his quest to translate the book
into a motion picture – but there is not enough time and space to include
them all here.
I will quote three passages from the book itself now
that will prove what a great writer that Jack Kerouac was. It will also
prove that he had more on his mind than the mere chasing of kicks. It shows
a profoundly deep and broad understanding at a young age of the underlying
and all-permeating spiritual nature of reality. He was truly a seer.
From pages 248 and 249:
Bill rode into town with us and went right on
talking. “Take it easy Neal, we’ll get there. I hope; hup, there’s the
ferry, you don’t have to drive us clear into the river.” He held on. Neal
had gotten worse since Texas, he confided in me. “He seems to me to be
headed for his ideal fate, which is compulsive psychosis dashed with a
jigger of psychopathic irresponsibility and violence.” He looked at Neal
out of the corner of his eye. “If you go to California with this madman
you’ll never make it. Why don’t you stay in New Orleans with me. We’ll play
the horses over to Graetna and relax in my yard. I’ve got a nice set of
knives and I’m building a target. Some pretty juicy dolls downtown too, if
that’s in your line these days.” He snuffed. We were on the ferry and Neal
had leaped out to lean over the rail. I followed, but Bill sat on in the
car snuffling. There was a mystic wraith of fog over the brown waters that
night, together with dark driftwoods; and across the way New Orleans glowed
orange bright, with a few dark ships at her hem, ghostly fogbound Cereno
ships with Spanish balconies and ornamental poops, till you got up close
and saw they were just old freighters from Sweden and Panama. The
ferry-fires glowed in the night; the same Negroes plied the shovel and
sang. Old Big Slim Hubbard had once worked on the Algiers as a ferry
deckhand; this made me think of Mississippi Gene too; and as the river
poured down from mid-America by starlight I knew, I knew like mad that
everything I had ever known and would ever know was One.
Jack Kerouac capitalized the last word in that
sentence – One – intentionally. … As I always like to say: ALL IS
ONE. You may be enlightened and know this already – or you may know it
and not truly believe it – but Jack Kerouac knew it, believed it, and
tried to live up to it. It was part of the essence of his basic
spirituality as well as what made him tick. For from this realization –
knowing that, indeed, ALL IS ONE – comes true human compassion. Call it
Buddhist; call it Christian; call it whatever you want. The man had it.
Also, the passage from this book – though not
the part about the ferry – is touched upon in some of the dialogue in the
movie when Jack and Neal and Lou Anne go to visit William Burroughs and
leave off their traveling companion, there to re-join his new bride and
wife, brilliantly played by “Peggy” in the TV series, MAD MEN. If you
don’t laugh your head off during this scene, you have no sense of humor.
During this episode, the movie is even better than book in some ways. Uncle
Billy always says that he admired and enjoyed meeting William Burroughs
with Jack when they travelled to New York City together with Joe Chaput. He
called Burroughs a true southern gentleman – and that he was – and it comes
across quite clearly in this movie. The man had soul, and Viggo Mortensen
captures him to a T. The scene of him going into the Wilhelm
Reich-inspired, orgone-collecting outhouse is a hoot! (The Reich Museum is
in Rangeley, Maine.)
To further my point that Jack Kerouac was an
enlightened sage and not just a young stud after sex, drugs, and Jazz
(which in the earliest sense of the meaning of that word was American Black
slang and code for SEX), check out this short passage from page 308:
It was a hot afternoon. Reno, Battle Mountain,
Elko, all the towns along the Nevada road shot by one another and at dusk
we were in the Salt Lake flats with the lights of Salt Lake City
infinitesimally glimmering almost a hundred miles across the mirage of the
flats, twice-showing, above and below the curve of the earth, one clear,
one dim. I told Neal that the thing that bound us all together in this
world was invisible: and to prove it pointed to long lines of telephone
poles that curved off out of sight over the bend of a hundred miles of
salt. His floppy bandage, all dirty now, shuddered in the air; his face was
a light --- “Oh yes man, dear God, yes, yes!”
That thing that bids us all together – that illusive
“IT,” that ring that, as Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead sings on BLUES
FOR ALLAH, can never be reached and just slips away when we try – is always
right there, right under our noses, the whole time. STAR WARS calls it “The
Force.” It is very real, and it is explained very well by Ervin Laszlo in
his book, Science and the Akashik Field of which you can read my review at
… There is a scene in the movie where Neal is driving his old Hudson
through a snowstorm, with the windshield all covered with snow, and his
head, wrapped around with a scarf, is sticking out the window in order to
see the road up ahead before him so that he can drive the car, and it
captures the essence of this last passage in the book.
Finally, there is this third and last passage from
The boys were sleeping and I was alone in my
eternity at the wheel and the road ran straight as an arrow. Not like
driving across Carolina, or Texas, or Arizona, or Illinois; but like
driving across the world and into the places where we would finally learn
ourselves among the worldwide fellaheen people of the world, the Indians
that stretch in a belt around the world from Malaya to India to Arabia to
Morocco to Mexico and over to Polynesia. For these people were unmistakably
Indians and were not at all like the Pedros and Panchos of silly American
lore --- they had high cheekbones, and slanted eyes, and soft ways --- they
were not fools, they were not clowns --- they were great grave Indians and
they were the source of mankind and the fathers of it. And they knew this
when we passed, ostensibly self-important moneybag Americans on the lark in
their land, they knew who was the father and who was the son of antique
life on earth, and made no comment. For when destruction comes to the world
people will stare with the same eyes from the caves of Mexico as well as
from the caves of Bali, where it all began and where Adam was suckled and
taught to know. These were my growing thoughts as I drove the car into the
hot sunbaked town of Victoria where we were destined to spend the maddest
afternoon of our entire lives.
Wow! … The humanity of this man is truly outstanding.
He identifies totally with the Native American and other First Nation
native peoples across the planet. Knowing that he was part Native American
himself (Mohawk from the Iroquoian-speaking peoples of Canada), he could
relate and empathize with the plight of the original Americans of this
It is not my intention to spoil the reading of this
book for you – or to spoil the viewing of this movie for you – but you need
to understand that there was a lot more to Jack Kerouac than the constant
portrayal of someone smoking yet again another cigarette, drinking another
glass of whiskey (Uncle Billy says he preferred Hennesy Cognac), gyrating
ecstatically on the dance floor before a live jazz band; falling into the
arms of another sexy and loving woman in bed, taking peyote down in Mexico,
smoking marijuana any chance he could get, or wandering around hitchhiking
across the country like a bum with a backpack over his shoulders (a
backpack which now resides in a protective glass case in the Mogan Cultural
Center Museum on French Street in Lowell, Massachusetts). No. These are
allof the superficial images that the unknowing attribute to him as the
only things that characterized him. None of these activities defines
Jack Kerouac or the totality of the man: his heart, his mind, his
personality, his soul. His was a great spirit in every respect – and this
comes across in both the book and the movie, if you read and watch closely.
Sure, this book was originally censored and edited and
cut to pieces by the conservative consensus reality mindset of the
editors and publishers of his day. But thanks to Jack Kerouac – and to all
of his other writings, as well as to those of his friends like Corso, and
Ginsberg, and Burroughs, and Ferlinghetti, and others – this movie
of ON THE ROAD, 56 years later, will not be censored (though I am sure it
was edited, and I long to see the Director’s Cut on Blu-ray disc soon!) The
movie is great! … Yes, it is Rated R – and with good reason (Would you have
it any other way?). The R stands for: rambunctious, raucous, reckless,
restless, rowdy, and most definitely raw; but it also stands for
religious, righteous, rebellious (in a good way – against the consumerist
madness of the military industrial complex mindset of the times), and most
definitely real. Yes, it does not get any more REAL than this.
As for “religious,” people need to realize that there
are more forms of religion than conservative sects of Christianity. There
are even some people in the world – like the ancient Kalash people,
descended from the soldiers of Alexander the Great, in Afghanistan and
Pakistan – who still worship the ancient Greek god, Dionysus. Ever been to
a Grateful Dead concert? The great modern mythologist, Joseph Campbell
himself, has been noted as saying that it is the closest thing to an
exhibition of uninhibited Dionysian revelry that he has ever experienced.
So, yes – ON THE ROAD – both the book and the movie are “religious” in the
truest sense of that word. Both the book and the movie portray religious
experiences firsthand. In one sense, what isn’t a religious
Jack Kerouac has finally got his due, indeed … and
there is more to come down that Pacific Coast Highway than meets the eye –
yesterday of Flash Gordon, The Shadow, Wallace Berman and Jack Kerouac and
radio and early film screen heroes and then reading about Wallace Berman yet
again in the very new biography of West Coast poet Robert Duncan by Lisa
Jarnot, things just welded together in my mind. Robert Duncan: The
Ambassador From Venus is keeping me off street corners these past few
days. Duncan is a complex poet and a highly influential one too. Compile any
family tree of Post War American poetics and branches will link with him in
so many directions. Here are a few lines I've been reading today which
connect him with Wallace Berman....."....Wallace and Shirley Berman in
Topanga Canyon. He wrote Jess that the Bermans' bohemian lifestyle reminded
him of his Woodstock days: "The last night I was there, Tosh, Shirley and
Wally were in the one double bed; Minnie (the di Prima infant) and I in one
single (Tosh's bed) and the floor littered with the corpses of (Alan)
Marlowe, Diane (di Prima), and Dean Stockwell." Amid the clamor of old
and new friends, Duncan also found common ground with the Bermans'
eight-year-old son, Tosh: "He is wild WILD about Oz and Oz books and
changed from a shy little disappearer into a chatterbox when he found out I
could tell him what happens in the Oz books he hasn't got yet...I found him
(for $1) The Lost Princess. He went about in a daze, clutching the book and
scornd (sic) television, trying to make out words and sentences in the book."
(From a letter to Jess Collins in December, 1962) - The biography is
published by The University of California Press - it is a gem.
The photo above is of Wallace and Shirley Berman with their son Tosh in 1951.
The photo was taken (I think) by their friend Charles Brittin, who died in
copies of Beat Scene magazine into the local Post Office yesterday (Monday
January 7) I noticed the little calendar they had at the front of the
counter, one of those that tells you of important events in history.
Apparently yesterday in 1934 was the very first time that the Flash Gordon
comic strip first appeared. It made me smile as during the late 1950s and
probably early 1960s I was entranced by the Flash Gordon films shown on tv
and at the Saturday morning 'tanner rush' kids cinema shows which were very
popular at the time. Buster Crabbe played Flash and it was derring-do stuff
as he fought with Ming the Merciless, survived countless 'Death Rays' and
encountered the 'Clay Men' with 'Dale' alongside him, not to mention Prince
Baron. I loved it all and still think warmly of all that. I wondered if
Kerouac ever saw it, after all he was heavily into The Shadow? Not a million
miles from Flash. I have a number of LPs of Shadow shows, some featuring
Orson Welles as 'Lamont Cranston,' who was, of course, 'The Shadow.' I know
there was a Shadow film, with one of the Baldwin brothers in the role. Was
there ever a TV series I wonder? These things resonate don't they. Flash
Gordon made it into the art of the late West Coast artist and artistic mover
Wallace Berman. (pictured above with wife Shirley and Allen Ginsberg). I have
a 'Flash Gordon' image of his framed on the wall. Some of the Shadow LP art
is pretty striking too and I'm sure there are other albums I haven't seen.
The Flash Gordon movie, made about twenty years ago was very colourful,
though I'm struggling to recall who played Flash, was it Dolph Lungren? I
think they kept faith with the comic strip spirit of it all, though doubtless
it didn't meet with universal approval, but I thought it was ok. Though the
'soundtrack' by Queen was naff. Anybody doing a Phd on Flash Gordon &
Beat Scene 69 is now
out. Scroll down a little way to click and pick up a copy of the only
magazine on the planet totally dedicated to Jack Kerouac and America's Beat
Perkins, what a name. A blues legend. He crept into my dreams last night.
My father was trying to get back to California, he lived there for many
years. He was trying to sneak onto a train in Wales, he lives there now.
Attempting to get his old Mustang car on the train. I was trying to help him,
crawling along dusty tunnels in an old station, waiting rooms with people
looking curiously at us and wondering what we were doing. We were kind of
oblivious to them. And then, as only in dreams, we were in a blues and jazz
club and Pinetop Perkins was seated in a corner and fans and club members
were trooping up to him and showing their respects. Pinetop just wanted to
have a quiet drink and rehearse for the evening show. But still the fans came
in. In thegloom in another corner of the room Paul Bowles
Kerouac were discussing my father's problem and how to help him get his
Mustang car back from California. Kerouac suggested somehow putting it
craftily on a freight train, the Boogie Woogie Flyer. Now I've heard of the
Midnight Flyer and I've heard of the Midnight Rambler, but the Boogie Woogie
Flyer? It put Paul Bowles in mind of The Andrews Sisters and The Boogie
Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B and he started singing it. (I couldn't
imagine Bowles doing that in a million years). Jack started laughing
uncontrollably and Pinetop heard it all and came over. It was a little club.
He joined the conversation and Bowles started asking Pinetop how he got his
name. Kerouac was so interested in this and leaned forward to hear more
closely. His face was the face on the current issue of Beat Scene. I'd been
putting copies of it in envelopes all day, his image was obviously fixed in
my mind. He mentioned having had an email from the English writer Iain
Sinclair that day, they'd been discussing the possibilities of 'Pinetop
Perkins.' But Kerouac was beginning to speak in an English North Eastern
accent - probably because I'd been talking with a subscriber earlier in the
day and he was telling me in his lovely soft spoken accent what the photo on
the magazine cover said to him. Iain was taking notes. Everything
disintegrated as my father crashed into the room in his Mustang car. The one
he had in reality driven across America and brought home with him a few years
ago. Pinetop Perkins, Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, Iain Sinclair and various fans brushed the
dust off and admired the little car. I haven't a clue what it all means, but
it was a lot of confusing fun.
"It's perhaps a testament to my resistance to
this material that I've never felt moved to read Jack Kerouac's On The
Road, but I have to suspect it's better than this disappointing
adaptation, or at least more interesting.
First things first: As a general matter, any story
that proposes that young writers are the most interesting and amazing people
in the world — as a largely autobiographical story by a writer is in danger
of doing — begins with an uphill battle. In fact, any film in which all the
characters seem utterly convinced of their own importance and coolness from
the outset has the same battle. No one wants to hear a story in which the
underlying thesis is that the person who wrote the story is better than the
people hearing it.
There are times when, quite oddly, this version of
On The Road feels like nothing so much as Goodfellas: the
jazzy music, the chest-beating narration, the warm nostalgia for the days
when men could just be men. That nostalgia often turns distasteful, however,
as when the slang gets so thick that it's like watching the most awkward
parts of West Side Story. If, that is, West Side Story had
featured a gang of poets.
What I wanted from On The Road was something
that would capture what people love about Beat literature. What I got was a
movie that genuinely draws all its pleasures from people speaking painfully
affected dialogue and doing lots of drugs and having lots of sex with each
other. It's exactly the parts of life that are better to experience than they
are to hear about. It's all just so much less interesting than you think it
is when it's happening to you, even if — perhaps especially if — you are
taking copious notes.
As a matter of fact, on a similar note, it's one of my major theories of
modern cinema that your characters had better be
extraordinarily interesting if you want me to spend any considerable
time in your film watching them get high. It matters not whether it's meth or
benzadrine; watching people do drugs is stultifyingly boring unless the
people are extremely fascinating. Whatever Kerouac's friends were
like in real life and however he drew their analogues in the book, the people
in the movie are not extremely fascinating. Similarly, there's a lot of sex
in the film and a lot of it is supposed to be daring — look, three people!
Look, two men! Look, they're doing it in the car! But as with the drugs, the
handling of the sex is so glib that it's actually dull.
The primary relationship in the film is between Sal
(Sam Riley) and Dean (Garrett Hedlund). Sal is the contemplative writer — the
Kerouac surrogate — and Dean is the charismatic, marrow-sucking friend Sal
both envies and resents. While Hedlund's performance shows glimmers of
promise at times, there's nothing to the way these characters are written
that inspires any need to know anything more about them. Unfortunately,
having a character say "Dig it!" doesn't make you a faithful recreator of
Around these two poorly defined men, other people
orbit. There is the Ginsberg-like Carlo (Tom Sturridge), a character drawn
here as so self-consciously writer-like that his every
appearance inspires twitches. He actually says at one
point, while pondering how to describe his feelings, "Melancholy's too
languorous!" With apologies to the book if that appears in it, even in the
context of one of the most important outbreaks of literature in the 20th
century, that is a line that will get a guy punched.
Many of the other minor characters appear to exist in
order to provide cameo roles for famous actors. There is a shady guy they
pick up in their travels, played by Steve Buscemi. There is the briefly seen
Old Bull Lee, played by Viggo Mortensen. And there are a whole slew of women
played by actresses much better-known than most of the primary men over whom
they are forced to swoon over and over in this movie: Kristen Stewart,
Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, and Elisabeth Moss. The women exist in the film to
have sex with the men and yell at them. Mostly, whether they are
romantic/sexual prospects or just hags, they are there simply to hold the men
back in various ways. They are Manic Nix-ie Dream Girls, and none of them get
anything remotely interesting to do. Of course, the guys don't particularly,
What's ultimately wrong with On The Road is
that the film envisions everyone Sal meets as nothing but fodder. When you're
actually reading what's meant to be his book, as On The Road
readers are, that might work. But here, you're really seeing the story
of how he wrote his book. It's one too many degrees of remove, which makes
his wanderings seem painfully self-indulgent and insignificant. Here, he
picks cotton like a dilettante, to give himself something to write about.
What other people do for survival, he does for the experience. He loves the
people he meets in his travels not because of any unique humanity they might
possess, but because they fulfill his fantasies about spending a lot of time
with earthy simple people who will be great in his book.
Part of the problem with featuring characters in a
film who are quite this convinced of their own importance and glamour is that
when they don't live up to it, it's quite conspicuous."
Beat Scene 69
is now available. Sporting articles on Michael McClure, William Burroughs
Jr., an interview with Joyce Johnson, Joanne Kyger, 'The Mexican Girl', Amiri
Baraka, the Bopland Boys, Gregory Corso, Black Mountain, Jack Kerouac in
Hollywood and in Lowell & more. Copies are £7.95 including postage. I'm
busy posting out subscriber copies right now, it is a slow process so hang
on. I'll be
putting up the cover image later today. If you would like a copy click the
of you, and there are a good number judging by your comments, that have
enjoyed the Walter Salles film adaptation of On the Road, here is a
little clip of him talking about the film as a trailer for it runs. I think
the film has some merit. It is a historical thing. I've read that people
think it is 'tame' in today's world, that it has no power to shock, that the
things the characters do are so commonplace today. That's missing a point.
The film is an attempted recreation of a book that is over 50 years old, it
will be a product of the times it was written in. And all the better for it.
I'm sure it will reward with repeated viewings. It has faults, it isn't
'Your' movie, the one you wanted to make, the one running in your head as you
read and envisage it, it can't be, can it? Impossible. Yet it is one man's
vision. Regardless, listen to Walter Salles and see segments of the film
here. Thanks to Nic Saunders for sending the link.
MEETING GARY SNYDER by Iain Sinclair will be the new Beat Scene Press
chapbook. Out in January 2013. An edition of 125 signed and numbered copies.
Iain is the author of many, many books, Downriver, Lights Out For the
Territory, London Orbital, Dining on Stones etc, etc. He has a particular
interest in American post war writers. If you would like to order a copy,
MOVING TARGET: ENCOUNTERS WITH WILLIAM BURROUGHS by Matthew Levi Stevens,
a recent chapbook in the Beat Scene series. No 37.
125 numbered copies only. It is illustrated. If you would like a copy click
on the button below.
is the swingingest..." (Jack Kerouac)
A packed London Review bookstore last night for the launch of Ed Dorn's
COLLECTED POEMS published by Carcanet Press. A very big and impressive
book, there should be an image of the cover here. Many of his friends and
poets were there and some read in honour of him, including his wife Jennifer.
Iain Sinclair, someone who knew Ed well, and man about London Town, did his always
excellent and entertaining opening and set the scene. And tireless organiser
Colin Still (and his lovely wife Fearn) provided links. Poet Tom Pickard was
there from Cumbria, also John Hall, Tom Raworth, Elaine Feinstein and others
I didn't quite hear the names of, I was near the back. It was understandable
that Ed Dorn has so many English friends as he spent a few years of his life
in England and is especially associated with Essex and the university there
in the 1960s, along with other American poets like Tom Clark. It was
certainly a more radical place then, as most universities were. Dorn was
associated with Charles Olson and the Black Mountain group of poets and with the Beat Generation, hence my presence there.
Someone made the telling remark that it was ironic that England and not America should publish this
collected poems. It was a lovely evening and you could feel the warmth for Ed
Dorn all around. Carcanet have done a nice job in presenting him. It was a
cheering evening - and going back home on the train through the ghostlike
little stations of middle England in the frosty small hours I was able to
reflect on Dorn getting some more overdue recognition.
Coming soon. All The Wild Thoughts": The
Correspondence of Ed White and
Jack Kerouac 1947-1969. Is a new book I'm told. There will
also be a letter press prospectus. The Deluxe edition will be 100 copies at
$475 and 500 trade Copies: $130. Apparently a pair of Jack Kerouac's
trousers were cut up and a square of cloth placed into the Deluxe edition as
well as a printer's plate. So the 'trade' edition will equate to about £80 +
post for English readers. This trade edition will not include a fragment of
Kerouac's trousers. Have to say that's all a touch tacky. Will the trouser
segments be more expensive if they have tuna fish stains on them? Poor Jack
Kerouac would be so dismayed at this stuff. Supposed to be done in December.
Better to get a copy of The Missouri Review which contains these
letters at a fraction of the cost. Sad, sad, sad.
Burroughs features in the new issue of my little Transit magazine and it
got me thinking about him. So many years now since he died. I found this
newly posted home movie footage of him at home in Lawrence, Kansas. With his
friends, just shooting the breeze and comparing weaponry, as you do. Allen
Ginsberg, Patti Smith, James Grauerholz and others crop up. This is from the
Allen Ginsberg Project site - masterminded by Peter Hale, who does
such a good job of keeping Allen's legacy alive. Have a look, nothing
remarkable happens but it is a cheering few minutes of film.
those who pre-ordered a copy of Transit 25. I'll be be mailing out the
first batch of those today - Saturday October 27 and the rest Monday and
Tuesday following. It has turned out nicely and I hope you like it.
Burroughs, Ed Dorn, Diane di Prima, Lew Welch, Janine Pommy Vega, Aram
Saroyan, Joanna McClure, John Montgomery, Neeli Cherkovski. A little corner
of the Beat Generation in England.
A week or so, October 20th, Michael McClure was 80 years old. One of
the poets who read at the famous Six Gallery event in the mid 1950s, along
with Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Philip Lamantia, with
Kenneth Rexroth as MC. A key figure in the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance,
his work was often experimental and controversial. His 'Beast Language'
poetry polarised opinion. Go to YOUTUBE for fascinating film footage of him
at San Francisco zoo with the lions way back.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djtmpdlXKEA He is also a playwright, THE
BEARD being performed in recent years in London, it is an art form he comes
back to again and again. It is said by some that he and others like Gary
Snyder - formed an early wing of
the environmental side of the Beat Generation, his poetry always rooted in
nature. His string of books over the decades bear testament to his
preoccupation with man as a creature alongside all the other creatures,
existing in nature, the universe. PLUM STONES, REBEL LIONS, HUGE DREAMS, MYSTERIOSOS, OF
INDIGO AND SAFFRON, SIMPLE EYES, RAINMIRROR, FRAGMENTS OF PERSEUS, RARE
ANGEL, MEAT SCIENCE ESSAYS, JAGUAR SKIES, THE MAD CUB, GHOST TANTRAS,
ANTECHAMBER, LIGHTING THE CORNERS, SEPTEMBER BLACBERRIES, STAR and more
besides, it is a very long list. He's a poet that crosses boundaries, you are
as likely to find references to alchemists, film makers (Bruce Conner), mathematicians, as you are rock
stars, Alfred North, Francis Crick, Jim Morrison. His background with rock
well documented, The Doors connection longstanding and continuing to this
day. His collaborations with Ray Manzarek and his unique keyboard sounds
resulting in a number of album releases - see
www.michael-mcclure.com and his
new album with Manzarek THE PIANO POEMS, it is a live album. At 80 he
is still willing to push himself. Long may he continue. Happy birthday
Michael McClure, we salute you.
In a few days Transit 25 will be out. It includes
Lew Welch, Diane di Prima, Neeli Cherkovski, Aram Saroyan, Joanna McClure,
Janine Pommy Vega, John Montgomery - the forgotten Dharma Bum, William
Burroughs, Ed Dorn. Cost is £5 in the UK.
from the preview evening to open the Jack Kerouac ON THE ROAD scroll exhibit
at the lovely British Library in London last night. Of course the scroll was
shown in Birmingham a few years ago but it was impossible to turn down the
opportunity to get a close look again. And I did get close, pressing my nose
right up against the glass. What a remarkable bit of paper. A little exhibit
around the scroll too. How good to see the photos we all know, blown up to
wall size, to better appreciate them. How young Allen looked, that Times
Square cafe photo of Jack, David Amram, Allen, Gregory, Larry Rivers. And
David Amram. There last night. A handsome, tall man, eighty something I
guess. Resplendent in dark suit and his beads and stuff. A real presence and
a versatile and passionate musician. His back catalogue is something to
behold. PULL MY DAISY, jazz standards, some Monk tunes, an American Indian
song that I couldn't quite catch the title of because people insisted on
talking throughout. That was stunning. David Amram is a real positive
ambassador for Kerouac's legacy. He steers us towards the reality that
Kerouac was a writer, that was it. Not Beat Generation stuff, cars and girls,
kicks, that nonsense. But beauty, love, awe. Go and see the exhibit. There
are talks, films etc to go along with it all. See the scroll and get a better
understanding of how Jack Kerouac lived for writing. And thanks David for
inviting me, M.Ring and Loz as your guests, very kind of you. And in October
too, Kerouac's month. Gone in October indeed.
has been neglected a little of late. My dallying with Facebook diverted my
attention but not any more. It is a curious set up in my view. If I hoped I
could promote Beat Scene and my other side projects there, it proved a total
let down. A lot of people 'liked' Beat Scene, whatever that means - and that
was it - a big nothing. I'll get back to real things you can feel and hold,
turn the page. Printed stuff. Got to see ON THE ROAD, the Walter
Salles film in London a few weeks ago. I want you all to see it. I'm not
going to spoil your fun. You know how the story goes anyway. Salles tries to
balance filming Kerouac's book alongside Kerouac's life with Neal. And while
Kristen Stewart plays a decent role I came away feeling her role had been
pushed up front a little to help with box office considerations. I understand
she is a very popular actor at the moment and kids like her. I wouldn't know
about that. Go and see it. Such a difficult story to capture in two hours.
I'd call the film a heroic failure. Working still on Beat Scene 69, plus
Transit 25 and a new chapbook. Life goes on.
I'm only a very recent addition to the Facebook ranks. There are only so many
hours in the day. One of the things that came up very early on was Al
Hinkle's site. You know Al as 'Ed Dunkel' and other names in Jack
Kerouac's novels. They were truly very good friends. Al was a big part of
Jack and Neal on the road and in Denver and the railroad phases of Jack's
life. See Al's pages at
collapsing in a heap after the Beat Scene 68 mailout, it is relentless, I was
able to catch up on a few things inbetween sleeping a lot. (and thanks to
M.Ring for sterling early morning work in getting things done). Things like
responding to book orders from my long established Satori Books operation.
Begun in 1982 when the selling of Beat type books was largely Compendium
Books in London, Iain Sinclair, Alan Halsey in Hereford and me. It was a
different landscape. Amazon was a jungle and you certainly didn't get your
books there. Of course the global book operators have made existence almost
impossible for people like me, warehouse monsters who undercut everyone.
Slash and burn. But I'm dogged and persistent and operate in areas they have
no fondness for. A recent book order, they happen now and then, was for Greg
Keeler's lovely book Waltzing With the Captain: Remembering Richard Brautigan.
By pure fluke I happened upon a review of the book by Kevin Killian, a
respected author from San Francisco, a chap who has written on Robert Duncan
and Jack Spicer to much acclaim. Imagine my surprise when halfway through the
review Killian says he has discovered Keeler's book by reading about it in my
brilliant Beat Scene magazine. His words. How kind is that. Of course the
thought was to contact Kevin to say thanks for those helpful comments and
then I looked at the date of his review, from the middle of 2004. The
internet is almost a time free zone. Things linger. So I'm a little late in
thanking Kevin Killian, almost eight years. How strange. Better late than
never. And although Kevin Killian is most kind, Beat Scene isn't really
brilliant, just a work in progress, but I hope it is getting there. Isn't
life strange sometimes.
small rumours that the Walter Salles film adaptation of On The Road
won't now be screened in England until December here is a link to 'Big Ed
Dunkel.' Of course you all know that was Jack Kerouac's name for Al Hinkle in
his book. Al is well and involved in things and he made a few comments about
his time with Jack of late. Beautiful memories of a Kerouac who was quiet,
shy, modest, not drunk all the time, meditative, wanting just to write. It
wasn't all about cars and girls. Read Al here.
Out now is the very new
issue of my Beat Scene magazine, number 68. Sporting a very nice
Richard Brautigan cover (thanks Counterpoint & Gatz Hjortsberg). A real Beat
mixture of articles as ever, Philip Whalen, Brautigan, Kerouac, Harry Crews,
Allen Ginsberg, Paul Bowles and much more. I've spent the past few days
mailing them out with the big help of M. Ring the main water carrier. She's a
star. If you would like a copy you can click on the button below. There is no
advertising in Beat Scene (that is apart from promoting ourselves), no
literary grants, no funds from universities. It relies upon you to keep it
going. And it has been going for 24 years.
Out now, is the very new chapbook in the Beat Scene Press
series. Number 36 is The Lost Artwork of Ah Pook Is Here reveals the
collaboration of William Burroughs and English artist Malcolm McNeill whilst
Burroughs was living a prolonged spell in London. It is at once a story of
startling creativity, of censorship, of frustration at not getting something
off the ground that might have taken the writing of Burroughs into a new
direction and alerting a whole lot more people to his singular talent.
Malcolm McNeill really connected with Burroughs and brings his word creations
into being - his massive 'Vigilante' painting is something to behold. So far
ahead of the times it is almost unbelievable. In the scary world we live in
today McNeill's art fits in - he created it forty years ago and more. The
issue is in the usual 5" x 8" chapbook format, in an edition of 125
numbered copies and features
reproductions of some of McNeill's art, along with conversations with him. He
is indeed a very talented artist. Copies are £8.95 worldwide.
If you would like to order a copy you can simply click the box here.....
will be shipped to you immediately. Price includes post. It will be packaged
collapsed Catholic I've always steered clear of top shelves in newsagents.
Those well endowed, if somewhat airbrushed, ladies are something of a taboo
with me. Fine figures of womanhood that they are I've never seen the appeal.
This week I was ordering the latest issue of Playboy magazine off the
internet, it would be too much to buy it in person. It arrived this morning
and there is 'America's sweetheart' Jenny McCarthy on the front cover. A
bleached blond in black stockings who is, I suspect, no more a 'sweetheart'
than any nice looking girl you might see walking down the street. But turn to
the middle of the magazine and there is the real reason I've risked eternal
damnation, The Lost Photos of Jack Kerouac as taken by his film making
pal Robert Frank. There are four pages of black and white pictures, one of
which has appeared in every biography of Kerouac in the past twenty years -
so not so lost then. They are terrific to see for any Kerouac reader, yet
they seem almost like outtakes, the same picture is also re-cropped to create
the illusion of an extra picture too. Kerouac is thirty seven, as writer
Greil Marcus rightly points out, he is beginning his ten year descent into
early death. It is 1959. Robert Frank appears in a couple of the pictures, he
and Kerouac were genuine good friends with collaborations on Pull My Daisy
and Frank's book of photos, The Americans. They were both
outsiders, immigrants in America. The essay that accompanies the photo spread
is as much about Frank, mentioning his film about the Rolling Stones that
they don't allow him to show unless he is present at the screening. Marcus is
a deft wordsmith, he writes well and it would have been nice to read more of
his thoughts. He seems to have a feeling for what Frank was getting at, he
says of The Americans, 'They are pictures of people coming to terms
with fate.' So, if I don't get struck by a thunderbolt for my sins
in ordering a copy of Playboy (in essence the Mother Theresa of soft porn
magazines I'd hazard a guess) - I can enjoy these Kerouac pictures,
where he is at ease with a friend at home. Would it be Northport? I'm not
sure without checking the dates. One thing's for sure, Jack certainly loved
that shirt he's wearing. I'll swear he was wearing the same one ten years
later in Florida. For those of you who like Jenny McCarthy and Jack
Kerouac, it is the July/August issue.
Jack Kerouac as a twenty year old naval reserve recruit
Leafing through the sleeve notes to the recent film
soundtrack to the On the Road movie, whilst listening to the sounds,
there were the usual credits given against each song. Now the last clip is
Jack Kerouac reads from On the Road and it states in small print
'courtesy of John Sampas, Executor the estates of Jack and Stella Sampas.'
Now this has me puzzled. About a year ago wasn't the will of Kerouac's mother
Gabrielle declared a forgery by a Florida court? And that was it, no more
appeals, no more legal backwards and forwards, where the only winners are the
bank accounts of the legal teams. I thought the estate would pass to Jack's
nephew Paul Blake, the young kid that Kerouac wrote his very last letter to,
he said, "I've turned my entire estate, real, personal, and mixed, to
Memere, and if she dies before me, it is then turned to you, and if I die
thereafter, it all goes to you." Jack Kerouac continues and is less than
complimentary to the Sampas family and says he doesn't want them to benefit
from his will. So, what happened? Well we know that Stella had control of the
Kerouac estate. Don't ask me how. Paul Blake and Jan Kerouac, seem to
have been pushed aside. Then, of course, the long drawn out saga of Memere's
will. After years it was finally stated that her signature on her will was
forged. This was not surprising as Gabrielle had suffered a massive stroke
and was incapable of such an act, according to all reports. So how come the
Sampas family still get the credits on a very recent CD based around Jack
Kerouac? Why isn't it courtesy of Paul Blake? What's going on? - Well, thanks
to friend of Beat Scene Dan P, I've inserted this from a site called THE
BEATNIK, which seems to bring things kind of up to date. See below. And
"On August 10, 2011, the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second
District, ruled against the Sampas family and affirmed Judge Greer’s ruling
that Kerouac’s mother’s will was a forgery. The way the decision was
written, it is a final decision and cannot be appealed further. That means
it is now in the history books that the Kerouac Estate, arguably the most
valuable literary estate in recent history, was stolen.
Bill Wagner, Blake’s attorney, stated, “In effect, the war is over.
Gabrielle’s will has been determined to be a forgery and now our chore is
to see what assets we can trace and still recover or recover rights to.”
When Jack Kerouac died, Stella was entitled to only one-third of the estate
by a Florida dower’s rights law. The rest should have gone to Jan Kerouac
and Paul Blake, Jr. States Wagner: “The Estate of Gabrielle Kerouac is
being administered at this time and the Personal Representative [appointed
by the Florida court] is collecting information to allow the Estate to
benefit as Jack Kerouac intended, subject only to the Widow’s Share awarded
at his death to Stella [by Florida state law] ….”
Continues Wagner: “By reason of the above events, the 1/3rd of
the assets of Jack Kerouac which passed by law to Stella became the
property of Stella’s siblings. The remaining 2/3rd of the
assets of Jack Kerouac that passed under Jack’s will to Gabrielle belong to
her recently re-opened Estate. The beneficiaries of that Estate are Paul
Blake, Jr., and the heirs of Jan Kerouac, sharing equally once the Estate
is fully administered. The discovery of tangible personal property and the
accounting for intangible personal property, including intellectual
property and money assets, both past and future, will be the focus of the
Personal Representative under the supervision of the Probate Court.”
Click here for a fairly recent film of Diane di Prima
reading in New York. It is on the LOST & FOUND site - The Center for the
Humanities at the City University of New York. Diane's letters, works form
part of the absolutely essential 'Lost & Found' series of chapbooks issued
there & edited by Ammiel Alcalay. Works & letters by di Prima, Charles Olson,
John Wieners, Joanne Kyger, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan and many others feature in
this wonderfully researched series. go to
William Burroughs & Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page in
1975. Burroughs interviewed Page for Crawdaddy magazine around that time.
my self indulgence here. He's hardly a candidate for the Beat Generation Hall of
Fame, yet Ray Bradbury was a favourite writer of mine. So it is with
sadness I read of his death very recently at the age of 91. A lot of people
may view him as a writer of science fiction and yet he was much more than
that. I think what first drew me to his writing as a teenager was his
evocations of small town America where marvellous and strange things could
happen to young kids. That sense that the imagination could live, come alive, anything was
possible, parallel existences could happen. I still have my knocked about
copy of THE OCTOBER COUNTRY from 1964. Read again and again. And there is
still my Corgi paperback copy of THE SILVER LOCUSTS, named alternately THE
MARTIAN CHRONICLES, again bought with pocket money in the mid 1960s. And turned into a
creditable TV series with Rock Hudson in the 1970s. He's built a reputation
for things like FAHRENHEIT 451 - turned into a movie by Francois Truffaut,
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, THE ILLUSTRATED MAN and others and he was a
short story master. Science fiction was at his core but the fantastic was his
heart, he was never scarier or more thought provoking than when keeping it
close to home. He often wrote of universal themes tied in with that small
town setting. One of his key talents lay in his ability to not let go
of being a boy and the gifts they have of believing pretty much anything is
possible. He never became an adult cynic. His books meant a lot to me. I maybe haven't read him much in
recent years but I'll remedy that soon. Goodbye Ray, you'll live on in your
It's taken me nearly a month to read the massive new
biography of Richard Brautigan by William Hjortsberg. JUBILEE HITCH HIKER:
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF RICHARD BRAUTIGAN has kept me absorbed and turning
the pages to find out what happened next. I own up, I'm a slow reader and I
was trying to really take in all the fine detail that William 'Gatz'
Hjortsberg had researched. I didn't want to reach the end. Can't tell you how
much he has uncovered. In the beginning I tried making notes, but such was
the avalanche of reference that I abandoned that. I found myself writing more
than reading. What the book did for me was a few things, it turned my concept
of Richard Brautigan upside down, it also drove home to me, if it was ever
needed, just how pivotal Japan (Tokyo) was to Brautigan. It also traced the
beginnings of the end for Richard Brautigan, that beginning comes quite early
in the book. In many respects it seemed all downhill from there. But I'm not
going to divulge too much of what I think. That isn't important. I want you
to read this monument of a volume. It was decades in the making. The book was
started over twenty years ago and Hjortsberg wasn't the one who instigated
the original research and interviews. But he took up the baton and stuck
diligently to his task while all us Brautigan devotees waited impatiently. We
knew he was writing it and sighed when we heard every year that it might
appear in a year or so. One big aspect in Hjortsberg's favour was that he was
a friend of Brautigan's largely through them being Montana neighbours, it
gave him special insight into Brautigan's complex character. RB was capable
of extremes. He isn't the man you think he is if you know his books and
nothing else, like me. I've read the few books about him and they reveal
nothing like the unfurling that Hjortsberg comes up with here. This proper
biography is so long overdue. Love him or be indifferent to him, Richard
Brautigan was a major literary figure of the 1960s and 1970s. He is often
paired with the 'Love Generation.' He is seen hand in hand with the hippies.
Read this vast biography and have your notions thrown out of the window. A
very candid biography. This is no love in. Despite being Brautigan's long
time friend, Hjortsberg has given us it all. I'll be expanding on the book
and featuring an interview with 'Gatz' Hjortsberg in the next Beat Scene. The
biography is magnificent.
Speaking to the English
daily newspaper The Guardian in recent times the actor Nick Nolte - who
played the role of Neal Cassady in the late 1970s film Heart Beat, said - "There
was a whole generation in America that didn't even know its
own subculture: the Beats. That couldn't happen today. A subculture wouldn't
last more than 10 days before advertising agents would be on to it."
current issue of Beat Scene there is a page on Serendipity Bookstore in
Berkeley, California. Run by Peter Howard for decades, it was a monumental
book place and we reflected on that and the owner.Sadly Peter Howard
died and the premises and his massive stock were sold by a major
international auction house. I may have been a little hard on Peter Howard
and his manner in the article. He could be abrasive. But there was obviously
a softer aspect to him, as his many friends and associates have noted.
Looking in my diary for 1981 recently, a bit of research for something, I
came across an entry for September of that year where I had a little
correspondence with Howard. I'd completely forgotten how he had given me a
lovely 'Captain Beefheart' concert poster as a gift after I'd bought a few
books there a few weeks earlier. I knew a friend who was really keen on
Beefheart, I've never been enamoured of him, apart from 'Diddy Wah Diddy,'
and passed the poster onto him. He was delighted. Back home I got a letter
from Peter Howard a few weeks later and he asked if I could obtain a poster
from an exhibition that was running at the Natural History Museum in London
just then. I managed to get the poster, it was a beauty, and airmailed it off
to Peter Howard in a tube. Things were slower then and it wasn't until a few
weeks later that a little package came from California. In it was a lovely
copy of an early Kerouac novel, not a first but a lovely edition and not
something you'd find easily outside America back then. I'd completely
forgotten his kindness. The book and the letter remain on my shelves still.
So, a little like Bukowski, Peter Howard had a Bluebird in his heart, and now
and then he let it sing.
Scene Press has recently published JACK KEROUAC'S LAST NIGHT IN
NORTHPORT by Patrick Fenton. It is number 36 in the chapbook series. An
edition of 125 numbered copies. I've mailed out pre-ordered copies in recent
days and you should be receiving your copy soon. It is £6.95 in the UK and £7.95
everywhere else. If you live in the UK and would like to order a copy,
click the button below. Overseas please email me and I'll send
you a link or sort something out with you.
In the chaos
that is the Beat Scene subscriber mailout, something I both look forward to
and dread because whilst I've got the fillip of a new issue there is the slog
of mailing them - I overlooked to mention the new Beat Scene Press chapbook
is out. WHATNOT: A CONVERSATION WITH PHILIP WHALEN by David Meltzer is
number 35 in the series. 125 numbered copies. Whalen has always been a
favourite of mine. A quicksilver mind. And I must thank David Meltzer for
giving me permission to publish it. If you would like a copy, it is in the
usual 8" x 5" little brown cover format, click the link below.
Beat Scene 67 has been out for a few weeks and is almost sold out. It includes Jack Kerouac (see front
cover above), William Burroughs, Black Mountaineer Basil King, Ed Sanders, Charles Bukowski,
George Whitman, Doctor Sax, Maggie Cassidy, On the Road & more. If you would
like to purchase a copy it is £7.95 in the UK. There is a UK Paypal button below.
Scroll further down for an OVERSEAS BUTTON.
Project have made available a whole series of poetry readings made for
cable television in America in the 1970s. These were very low budget
programmes made in black and white, yet the series recorded many fine poets.
Ed Sanders and Ted Berrigan feature, as does Joanne Kyger. Here's a link to
the Joanne Kyger recording, made in March 1978. The reading lasts
about 28 minutes. Good stuff. Just scroll down til you reach Joanne's show.
Click here if you live outside the UK and would like to obtain a copy of
Beat Scene 67 by Airmail post.
through the exchange of letters between Jack Kerouac and his Lowell friend
Sebasatian Sampas during the very early 1940s, in THE SEA IS MY BROTHER -
it was difficult not to be touched by their youthful idealism and agonies as
they made their way in life. Sampas was as artistically inclined as Kerouac
and my mind sometimes forgot that he wasn't a young Allen Ginsberg. The
letters were so reminiscent of the ones that he and Kerouac shared just a
short while later. Jack obviously felt a deep need to put his views onto
paper and test them out with others. When Sebastian died in 1943 it seems
Ginsberg and others replaced him in the letter writing stakes. The Sampas/Kerouac
flurry of letters, the Sampas letters predominate, some of Kerouac's are
lost, presumably because Sampas was in the army and things were often chaotic
for him, reveal an individual in thrall to William Saroyan and Thomas Wolfe.
And so was Kerouac. Sebastian even writes to Saroyan, calling him 'Bill,' and
extolling the virtues of his friend Jack Kerouac and his budding writing
skills. And, of course, telling Saroyan how great they both think he is and
expressing his dismay that one of his plays has been poorly received when
shown in New York theatres. The letters chart the ups and downs of their long
distance friendship, Jack and Sebastian, once boyhood pals in Lowell, are now
rarely in the same place, it is a litany of proposed meetings, get togethers,
hopes, dreams, shared friends, gossip, their respective writing developments,
aspirations to see the world together. Sampas seems highly strung, very
sensitive, at odds with his times, his life and surroundings, sees beauty
everywhere and awfulness as well. Lives for the arts, poetry, plays,
classical music, girls, jazz. Does that sound like Kerouac too? Yes it does,
doesn't it. They could be brothers and indeed they are in everything but
name. The war takes its toll on them both, Sampas sees things no one should
ever see, especially when he is hardly out of his teens. The ruin that war
brings. And it goes on forever doesn't it. Maimed lives, while politicians
talk of 'economic growth.' Inevitably the war moves them apart, creates
shifts in their thinking, their loosely knit group of 'Prometheans' is sorely
tested. Sampas clings to the ideals til he dies, Kerouac less so. For Sampas
the letters must have helped him enormously as he endured the brutality of
army life. And he too shows startling stylistic changes in his poetry as he
edges towards his end. His Wolfian and Saroyanesque stylings giving way to a
leaner approach. Sampas was a massive figure in Kerouac's life. He features
heavily in THE TOWN AND THE CITY of course and again right at the conclusion
of Kerouac's life with VANITY OF DULUOZ. And, as the footnotes
alongside these letters point out, he crops up in unlikely settings in things
such as MEXICO CITY BLUES. It is hard to shake off the impression that had he
lived we might have been talking about him in the way we do about Kerouac and
all his gang.
Years ago Beat
Scene did a few pages on the American cartoonist Robert Crumb. And since then
we've done nothing. Crumb has always got me confused. I like his
draughtmanship, he can really draw stuff. He's what I'd call a proper artist.
No unmade beds or sharks in vinegar. But his style seemed preoccupied with
females and their anatomy and sex. He's wasting his talents I often thought.
I recall the Arena film documentary screened by the BBC many years ago and
that too intrigued me. Whatever you thought about him he has had an
interesting and full life. Reading his book of letters, Your Vigor For Life
Appalls Me, was equally thought provoking. A month or two back the English
daily newspaper THE GUARDIAN, ran an article on him and one critics take on
what he does. Crumb is prolific, of course he's illustrated a couple of
Charles Bukowski books into the bargain and they were just right. Here's a
link to that Guardian piece. Crikey, the English newspaper scene would be a
much sadder place without The Guardian.
reminder this morning on the national radio news, Classic FM to be precise,
how peripheral the Beat Generation can be. It was announced that Jack
Nicholson's leading role in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST had been
voted the best ever performance in a movie....ever. The news reader said his
performance as Randle P. McMurphy in 'Ken Kaycee's' novel was brilliant. I
nearly choked on my toast. A classic book of the Twentieth Century, adapted
for the silver screen in the 1970s and seen by countless millions over the
years, a pivotal point in just how we perceive the way things really are,
just how the lunatics really are running the asylum and still, still, still,
they get Ken Kesey's name all wrong. I ask you, do they get Tony
Blair's name wrong, Ronald Reagan, Martin Amis? Does J.K. Rowling suffer this
indignity? It drives it home to me that the Beat Generation, and to me 'Ken
Kaycee' is very much part of all that, a loose knit generation we know, yet
all held together by a common bond, they wrote for change - they remain
outsiders, some kind of rabble for having the audacity, the nerve, to
question the accepted notions of reality, truth, how things are. They say don't
believe everything you hear in the media, this is especially true when they
can't even get the names right. Here's Jack Nicholson below, his name was read out
would have been 90 recently had he fought the demon drink just a little harder.
To counter the many negative reviews, put downs, that come Kerouac's way,
even today - here's a link from a three page review of his Windblown
Worldjournals book from around 2004 and published in the New York
Times. Very thought provoking. Have a read and see what you think. As
Kerouac's words from his youth get published it is important that his more
mature journals and diaries don't get bypassed.
As a few
of you will know Jim Burns is deputy editor of my magazine Beat Scene
and a regular contributor to it. Jim has written passionately and with great
insight about the Beats, American writers, jazz, poetry of an often
alternative kind of poetry and much more over the years. He has published a
string of poetry collections and had a few collections of his erudite essays
published. Here's a link to his very new collection,
BRITS, BEATS &
OUTSIDERS, published by The Penniless Press in the UK.
Here is a link
to an article he wrote about the publishing and bookselling world a few years
ago. It stands the test of time.
Stretching back to
earlier Beat Scene days, there are just a handful of issue 50 still
available. A Dan Fante/John Fante cover. There was an interview with Diane di
Prima, Michael McClure remembering his friend Jim Morrison, an extract from a
new book about Thomas Merton, Dan Fante talking about the Hollywood Ten, an
interview with John Wieners, much on John Fante, including contributions from
his son Dan. Jim Burns on Beatitude, Andy Clausen, stuff on Ginsberg by his
Croatian translator Vojo Sindolic & more. It'll be gone and then only available from rip off rare
book dealers who'll want your arm and leg. If you would like a copy of this back issue there is a
A very dark
morning. Christmas is a fading memory, if I ever remembered it. Did I
remember it? Nah, not really. Stuck in a broken down car in a London street.
Trip to the big city cut short and spending Christmas evening in a near
deserted service station outside Oxford. We'll laugh about it later. But
there on the doormat 7.30 a.m. on the last day of the year is an unexpected last
flurry of post and a packet from California. Inside is a big paperback, the
work of poet and writer Jack Foley and artist Helen Breger. SKETCHES
POETICAL. Wow, this is nice, I think as I thumb through it with my
porridge, light gradually coming to the day. Breger has been sketching poets
in bookstore readings around California for a very long time, there they are,
grumpy Kenneth Rexroth, physically tortured Kenneth Patchen, sad eyed
Kerouac, Dharma bum Snyder, everyman Ferlinghetti, the everso influential
Robert Duncan, railroad man Neal Cassady, jailbird Ezra Pound, Brautigan,
name change Leroi Jones, giant Charles Olson, the enduring Joanne Kyger, Jack
Foley's friend Michael McClure, heavily bearded Ginsberg, heartbreaker Robert
Creeley and there's more, Kay Boyle, TS Eliot, Theodore Roethke, James
Broughton, Dizzy Gillespie et al. The sketches, and you can trace how Breger
evolves with time, plus the impressions of Jack Foley on the art and the
poets. A lovely package that deserves the attention of poetry lovers
everywhere. Contact Jack Foley at 2569 Maxwell Avenue, Oakland,
California 94601, USA. Email
Scene 66 has been mailed off to all subscribers. You should have your
copy now. To all you subscribers, THANK YOU for sticking with me. It's
easy to click a few buzzers and bells and get your information on the
internet. But you guys, being a little more discerning, make things possible.
The aim is to continue far into the future and I hope you come along for the
REALLY TRULY Absolutely dedicated
to the Beat Generation and nothing else besides THEM. At all Ever..........
To say I needed
cheering up is an understatement. And news of an obscure sort of publication
from English writer Iain Sinclair really did cheer me up no end. It
arrived in the post yesterday, December 20. BLAKE'S LONDON: THE
TOPOGRAPHICAL SUBLIME is published by The Swedenborg Society and is a
handsome little hardcover book with a wraparound cover enhancing the nice
detail and attention that has gone into the production. The text is a
transcript of a talk that Iain Sinclair presented at the Society in November
2007. I've not read it yet, but will lift my spirits with the anticipation of
doing so in very near future. Those of you who know Iain's writing will
realise that he and London are inseparable and so this book fits the bill
perfectly. The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury way, London WC1A 2TH
broadcaster Paul Morley on the very recent BBC television show The Review
Show. In a panel of four, Morley stoutly defended and praised the new Jack
Kerouac book THE SEA IS MY BROTHER. He saw the book for what it was,
the first novel of a very young man burning to be a real writer. He found
merit in Kerouac's literary questing, his ambition to do something different
with the novel form, his taking on board the qualities of his influences,
Whitman, Proust and so on. The other critics on the show were indifferent, in
particular the prof from the University of East Anglia, a specialist in
American Lit no less, who was sort of hostile to Kerouac. I think she made
the comment that Kerouac only wrote one decent book - beggars belief. Paul
Morley pointed to the fact that Kerouac has become iconic, almost a celebrity
and is feted in that sense, sidelining his literary talents. I felt here, and
it isn't rocket science I know, he understood pretty well what had happened
to Kerouac. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not making a case for THE
SEA IS MY BROTHER as book of the year, far from it - though as a Kerouac
avid it comes high on my list - just as AND THE HIPPOS WERE BOILED IN THEIR
TANKS and ORPHEUS EMERGED were not Kerouac's finest. BUT, they do give us
insight into his development, they fill our curiosity surely? If we knew
about them - as we suspected they existed for decades - and they remained
unpublished we'd be up in arms. So Paul Morley gets a big thumbs up from me
for flying in the face of indifference to clearly see Kerouac's importance in
the social history of our times and to see that it might be important to read
what he was up to as a twenty year old rookie. There is a link to the show
here. Kerouac is the last item, so you might want to scroll along.
Eddie Woods for telling me about this BBC page on the recent publication of
Jack Kerouac's THE SEA IS MY BROTHER. The writer of the article damns
him with very faint praise, sadly. In the little interview clip, Stuart Evers
is far more positive, while seeing the book for what it is in the early days
of Kerouac's writing life.
Thanks to Daniel Bratton for sending this photo of
Allen Ginsberg with Leslie Fiedler in Fiedler's back garden in the
Buffalo, New York area after Ginsberg had done a reading at SUNY at Buffalo.
Not sure of date, possibly later in the 1960s.
FINDING JOSEF ALBERS
It is Sunday, November
13, 2011. It is such a crisp and pleasant early winter day that we decide to
drive into town, leave the car at the station and catch the train for a twenty mile trip to
Birmingham to see a couple of things at the galleries there. Its years since
I’ve been. Last time was an exhibition of some photo realist paintings by
Ralph Goings and others. I liked one so much I got a large print and it
remains on the wall at home to this day. A diner photo. A guy is sitting on a
stool at the counter with his back to the artist, or so it seems. He is
looking out through a large window. Any minute now he will turn around. We catch the train. It is
so full. People are standing. The usual whirr and hiss
of portable music stuff, headphones, bags, restless people. Thankfully it is a
brief trip and we are out into the streets of Birmingham. For a Sunday
lunchtime it is incredibly busy. Walking up the pedestrianised street uphill
towards the main square, town hall and the gallery area, I reflect on how this used to
be a busy road with cars dominating. Good to see it has been given back to
the people. It feels so much better.
The first museum is a bit of a let down. There isn’t much art, lots of
ceramics, jewelry. I remember Birmingham has a renowned ‘jewelry quarter.’ So
we go around the corner to a quiet street and find another gallery. Or is it
an extension of the one we’ve just been in? I’m unsure. But the art is here.
Lots of Pre-Raphaelites of course, Holman Hunt, Bourne-Jones and the like.
Some really big name European artists. It’s so hot in there and after a while
I’m getting battle fatigue. A kind of creeping overload. The senses are
struggling to cope. So many names. And just at a point where the legs plead
to rest, there he is. The Black Mountain man. Josef Albers. Tucked onto a corner site. Almost invisible. Out of
place amongst these European grand names. He
played a significant role in struggling to keep that weird and wonderful
college in Carolina thriving. And
was a real mainstay over the years there. Just a little piece of his art.
Almost invisible, pale – almost not there. Faint lines, impressions on a
cream background. What was he doing with it? And how did he end up in this
provincial English city all these years later? I sit down and wonder if
anyone knows his name, his history, how he is part of a doomed experiment in
alternative education in an obscure and at the time fairly remote region of
the USA almost eighty years ago? He seems lost amongst the massive waves of
colour around him. The medieval religious art, the biblical art. Why does
religion feature so much in art? There is little information about Albers in
the card below his framed creation. It saddens me. He should be reunited with
others he did, in a collection. I’m glad he’s here for me to see, even though
it does little for me. I like his spirit. Birmingham on a winter’s day is no place for this
Michael McClure was 79 on October 20. In 1989 he was on Radio KPFA in
the Bay Area. You'll know that this radio station is something of a legendary
establishment, the kind of radio station you'd want in your town. Going since
the 1940s when Kenneth Rexroth held court there, it is free from mainstream
influence. In this two hour show Michael McClure plays some of his favourite
music at that time and discusses why he likes the things he's playing. From
Beethoven to Howling Wolf. Good stuff.
NEW COURT RULING IN JACK KEROUAC ESTATE CASE - AS OF AUGUST 2011. FINAL
It is reported that in August it seems the Florida courts finally
decided that the estate of Jack Kerouac was wrongfully appropriated after it
was declared that Kerouac's mother's signature had been forged - it is
claimed. Up until now Jack's nephew Paul Blake had been unable to take action
to secure ownership of his uncle's estate. With this final court ruling,
which I am told is unappealable, Paul can now begin what will likely prove to
be a long legal journey to secure rightful ownership. You will recall that
Kerouac's last letter was to Paul - in it he gave everything to him. The
wrangling over the ownership of Jack Kerouac's estate has cast a dark and
seedy shadow over his name in the past decades. Much of his archive has been
sold to private auction and lost forever to the public during that time. At
the height of the controversy some years ago Beat Scene took the line that
Kerouac's estate was not being handled properly and that Jan Kerouac was
being marginalised by the then owners of the estate. We still hold that view
and look forward to a time when Jack Kerouac's estate is in the hands of Paul
Blake, Jack Kerouac's sister Nin's son. Surely then it will be administered
in a caring and thoughtful way and not just for personal gain. Just as Jack
Kerouac would have wanted back in 1969 when he had $97 in his wallet. He
wanted above all to be recognised as a writer. Let his estate set the tone
where he is seen to be just that. We wish Paul Blake and his associates the
best of luck in his legal journey. And feel sure he will act at all times to
maintain his uncles good name.
The new Hope Savage: Mystery Girl chapbook was issued a couple of
weeks ago and the run is now sold out. Thank you to those who purchased a
is number 32 in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series. It is an edition of
125 numbered copies.
Beat Scene 65
cover image below. Click on the Paypal button below image to order your copy.
below from the forthcoming ON THE ROAD movie.
This is a site always dedicated to
Generation and all the associated people and promoting the magazine
BEAT SCENE (a real paper magazine) which is
totally focused on them, concentrating on them historically and in a
contemporary way with interviews, news, profiles, reviews, photos. The
magazine has been published since 1988. Which of course makes it now twenty
three years old. I don't plan on putting up articles here from the paper
magazine. I get asked when I'm going to do this quite amazingly. (Talk about
shooting myself in the foot) - My
preference is always for a printed magazine. Something you can actually hold
in your hands.
There is a new chapbook
out now, number 31 in the Beat Scene Press series. Al Hinkle: Last
Man Standing by Stephen Edington. 125 numbered copies. You will know Al
Hinkle as Ed Dunkel in On The Road. In this chapbook Al recalls his times
with Neal and Jack. If you would like a copy click on the button below.
64 was issued a while ago, that's Gary Snyder on the cover, a terrific
photo taken by his friend Giuseppe Morretti. Gary likes the cover and the
Peter Coyote essay on him inside. There's big stuff
on William Burroughs, of course, ex Digger Peter Coyote on Gary Snyder, William Everson
at Waldport, big interview
with Diane di Prima, Sinclair Beiles, interview with Anne Waldman, Janine
Pommy Vega, Jim Burns on Hipsters and much more. If you would like a copy and you live outside the
UK there is a button below.
Ken Kesey reading a copy of a very old issue of Beat
Scene, number 18 in fact. Photo taken for the magazine by Alan Balliett in
West Virginia (who also conducted an interview with Ken for the magazine at
button right below. At £5 a copy.
is available now. It includes writing on Jack Kerouac by Gregory Stephenson, an interview
with William Burroughs, extracts from Gael Turnbull's 'Beat Hotel' journals
relating to Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs and Corso in Paris in 1958,
plus poetry from Diane di Prima, Barry Gifford, Jack Hirschman, Neeli
Cherkovski, Dan Propper, Sam Charters and stuff on Beat films. Copies are
£6.95 for overseas, button below.
Thank you to the
40 people who responded to the mailout for the recent TALKING WITH GINSBERG
chapbook. I appreciate it. It is in an edition
of 125 numbered copies. Another chapbook will follow that quite quickly. If
you would like a copy click the button below.
just viewed Nic Saunders film At Apollinaire's Grave, it struck me,
how on earth do you finance such a minority interest project like that?
Looking at the box the disc is housed in there is no telltale sign of funding
from any organisation, just the logo for Nic's film company 14167 Films. So
where does he find the loot to bankroll what must be a very expensive little
film, it runs to 25 minutes? Taking as his lead Allen Ginsberg's 1958 poem
AtApollinaire's Grave, when he and others were holed up at
the Beat Hotel in the Latin Quarter in Paris, this lovingly shot little gem
takes an easy pace to Pere Lachaise and the actual grave of the man himself.
I'm still taking the film in and to be honest don't want to spoil it for you.
Following on from his film Curses and Sermons, based around the work
of Michael McClure, it is evident Nic Saunders feels at home amongst the Beat
poets. However he doesn't take the conventional route when filming, At
Apollinaire's Grave will surprise you. Check it out.
Did you see the movie of HOWL yet? It has been
screened at a few places outside London in recent days. I've just watched it
at the Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry. True to form there were about fifteen
people in the audience. I don't know how many will turn up at screenings this
week. Maybe to the students (the cinema is on the Warwick University campus
site) just don't connect with something that happened well over fifty years
ago. These old poets might be old hat to them. Very old hat. Yet you might
imagine the presence of James Franco might tempt the students away from their
laptops and blackberrys? He certainly caught the speech patterns of Ginsberg
pretty good. I'd say in mainstream cinema terms the movie was fairly low
budget. The courtroom scenes, the kind of face to face interview with Franco
as Allen, documentary footage, the very impressive Six Gallery recreation.
Though I would have liked to see a little of the other poets in that reading,
Snyder, Lamantia, Whalen, McClure, if only to better put it in context. Erick
Drooker's animation is wonderful, as it is in other Ginsberg books, a big
plus for the film in fact. Don't want to spoil your enjoyment by saying too
much, well worth a visit if you can get to a screening. But the small
audience confirmed to me that this Beat Generation thing is really a minority
aspect of our society. The things they did resonate still in so many ways,
yet they are dimming as time flies past.
minute snippet from a recent documentary film on William Burroughs. Click the
As the Monty
Python team used to say, 'and now for something completely different.' In
this morning's post came a book NICK DRAKE: THE PINK
MOON FILES edited by Jason Creed. Now Nick Drake, who died in the mid
1970s, is a million miles from the Beat Generation and is totally out of sync
with this site. So please indulge me. I'm a big fan of Nick Drake and I was
back in 1969 when he put out the first of the three vinyl LPs he would
release in his short life. Tracks like TIME HAS TOLD ME from the gorgeous
FIVE LEAVES LEFT album just hooked me. I didn't know then that Nick came from
just down the road in Tanworth in Arden, a little village in the green belt
outside Coventry. He even played a rare live date at Coventry Teacher
Training College, which didn't go well. After buying his first album, it was
followed by BRYTER LATER and PINK MOON, all three albums on the wonderful
Island label of course. In 1972 I met my wife and in her little record
collection of Traffic, Tim Buckley, Leonard Cohen, King Crimson, Bell & Arc,
Captain Beefheart and others, was Nick Drake. I knew instantly she was the
girl for me. It is doubtful that Nick even sold a couple of thousand of any
of his three albums in his lifetime. My lovely wife is a woman of very good
taste. In the mid 1970s we were wondering when the next Nick Drake album was
coming out and we wrote to Island Records, a few days later we got a hand
written reply with a little book of Nick's lyrics telling us Nick had been
found dead a week or so earlier. Remember this is the 1970s, no internet, not
Ipads, we didn't even have a phone, not many people did back then. There was
a tiny mention in the NME or Melody Maker and that was it. How sad to learn
of this so premature passing. But we carried on loving these three albums. In
the late 1980s and early 1990s I put together a music magazine called Zip
Code, it was mostly a poor thing, but now and then it had moments, interviews
with Nirvana and John Martyn being two things I recall. And there was an
interview with producer Joe Boyd that I'm pleased to have done. Though it
very nearly didn't happen. It did and we talked all about Nick Drake, whom
Joe nurtured and produced. Joe was businesslike and I would have enjoyed more
time to ask questions but it got done. Now that interview has resurfaced in
the book mentioned above, along with a whole bunch of other Nick Drake
interviews and articles. I'm pleased to be in there. For Nick Drake fans, and
his name has reached so many more people in the past decade or so, this book
will be a dream. It is published by Omnibus. I'm off to put FIVE LEAVES LEFT
on the turntable.
Just back from
visiting the Beat photography exhibition at the National Theatre on London's
South Bank complex. (We also managed to see a Peter Blake exhibit, which was
a disappointment, but that is another story) - On a bitterly cold day this
particular part of London is not always a good place to be. As far as I can
ascertain, entrance to the building is tricky, through a series of walkways.
The Siberian blasts whipping across the Thames made it uncomfortable. The 'Brutalist'
concrete architecture doesn't help, some bright eyed architects vision of the
future no doubt. I recall coming to the Hayward Gallery close by a couple of
decades ago to see the Edward Hopper exhibit - and thinking what a dismal
place. Once inside the place resembles a very large cave. The exhibit was upstairs
in a big cafe sort of area. We were the only people there in an hour of
looking, which is a great pity as there were in excess of 70 black and white
Beat photos, all produced in a larger format and mostly from the camera of
Allen Ginsberg. Though the entrance hall site of a naked Allen Ginsberg is
not an image I'd want to retain, especially mid morning. He had some funny
ideas. There is a trendy catchphrase in use these days, which might have been
designed just for Allen, 'too much information.' Ginsberg could have reined
himself in just a shade. But he was a wonderful documenter of his life and
times, not a great photographer by any stretch, but without him the era and
his milieu would be the less for him. Many of the photos are to be found in
books you might own, though ones by others in the exhibit, by Chris Felver
for example, might be less familiar. And of course, seeing them developed to
such dimensions is a real bonus, it sheds new light. Neal Cassady, Burroughs,
Snyder, Corso, Leary, Kerouac as a younger man and as a befuddled middle aged
bloke, sadly forlorn in a chair. Burroughs, I never knew he was anything
other than a sixty year old drug fiend. Here as a trim healthy looking thirty
something in Cairo. Considering his alleged drug intake he should have been
six foot under by thirty. Kathy Acker, Jim Morrison, Abe Hoffman and many
others. The organisers are to be applauded for setting this up, the Beats are
a little cult minority thing, yet they are a group with a massive impact on
today. If you can, get to see it, on throughout March.
Above a still from the forthcoming Walter Salles
film adaptation of Kerouac's On The Road.
Do you recall
that late 1950s television show The Phil Silvers Show? Really it
should have been The Bilko show as the character played by Silvers, Sgt
Ernest Bilko, really was the star. That show has always been a favourite of
mine since they aired it on English tv early on the 1960s. I love it even
today. So much, it would seem, that 'Bilko' infiltrates my dreams. Just
recently he was in The Village Vanguard in New York, the place where Jack
Kerouac famously, or should that read 'infamously' read his work with jazz.
He bombed and his contract was terminated. Well Bilko was in the background
behind Kerouac, attempting to sell autographs, he had those of Neal Cassady,
Charles Plymell and, for some obscure and possibly bizarre reason, American
folk singer Tim Buckley, who died young of course. Now Cassady was in his
'moth eaten overcoat' that Kerouac describes in the final pages of On The
Road and Jack is morosely saying 'Here comes Neal in his moth eaten
overcoat,' but the words are appearing like speech bubbles in my dream. And
then very abruptly Jack and Neal start singing 'Dave Brubeck is the
swingingest,' which of course is a line/title of a track from a Kerouac
album. But a surly Kerouac won't sign autographs for Bilko and Bilko is
trying to conjure up a scheme to convince Jack that they can make a million
bucks doing that. Bilko has his arm around Jack, while Jack keeps singing
about Dave Brubeck. Jack likes him but just wants to sing with him. And
meanwhile Bob Dylan has sent his autograph for Bilko to auction, but he has
sent it by 'Wicked Messenger.' I'm not steeped enough in Dylan to fathom that
one out. Dylan won't deliver it personally. But he tells Bilko, magically
without being there, of his dreams and the rascally Bilko wants to auction
those as well. There's a side thing going on in my dream about one of Bilko's
platoon accidentally making a poetry with jazz record, but my recollections
of that are a shade hazy. There are also flying plaster ducks hovering and
Carol King's lovely pop tune from about 1962, It Might As Well Rain Until
September comes in and sets off a fire alarm. All very odd. As Bob Dylan
once said, 'You Can Be In My Dream if I Can Be in Your Dream.' Did he say
that? Bobheads let me know. Wish I knew what it all meant.
Hymns to St Geryon designer. I'd not really placed him before - a name
slipping in and out of things. Thanks. An affecting piece." Heathcote
Beat Scene Press chapbook is Wallace Berman...Verifax Man. Issued
in an edition of just 100 numbered copies, it is out now. Copies are £7.95 around the world. Click on the button here to order.
Allen Ginsberg's KADDISH AND OTHER POEMS 1958-1960 - an expanded 50th
anniversary edition with a new afterword by noted Beat scholar and biographer
Bill Morgan, is out now from City Lights Press. It was No 14 in their
acclaimed Pocket Poets Series. See
www.citylights.com for more.
Inevitably there was a little delay in producing the new Beat Scene,
computers. Don't you just love them. Great when they work but a pain
otherwise. The issue is now out and I've been exceptionally busy mailing them out.
Recently, I posted the last batch of subscriber copies.
So look for your copy very soon. A few of you may follow darts on tv?
Well it isn't every day I'm standing at the Post Office with my bundles of
Beat Scene and get nudged in the back by the onetime World Darts champion. A
lovely man, now 80+. He lives at the end of my street. We always talk
football, he Ipswich, me Coventry. What has that got to do with anything, I
dunno? If you can stretch
to picking up an extra copy of the magazine for a friend it would be massively helpful to me,
I rely entirely upon sales. There is no advertising or funds sponsoring the
magazine. Amazingly I still get queries asking when will the magazine go
online? Like, why don't you give it away for free? But I'm so greedy, I like
little luxuries like bread and water, a roof over my head. The answer is
never. If you would like a copy and you live outside the UK and would like
a copy, click this box here.
A few months ago
it was cheering to read about the release of a new film based around the
trial in San Francisco surrounding the publication of Allen Ginsberg's
Howl. Things looked good, a flash internet site for the film promised a
lot. But, but, but, it emerges that one of the key characters, Shig Murao,
who was Lawrence Ferlinghetti's right hand man in those days and the guy most
visitors to City Lights would likely encounter, has been airbrushed out of
history and out of the film. Now this is odd. Readers of Beat Scene may
recall the lovely full page photo of Shig with Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the
courtroom at the trial that I included in a fairly recent issue. There he is
large as life, yet the film makers have seen fit to ignore his existence. Can
this be right? If the film purports to recreate for us the true events they
are misleading us. Now I'm not making a case for Shig Murao as a vital figure
in the Beat chronology, but he was there with City Lights for a long time,
part of the jigsaw of the place, he was the guy at the desk arrested for
selling Howl to the police and they took him away to the police
station. He was a well respected figure at City Lights for a long time. It is
the thin edge of the wedge, who will they airbrush away next, Herbert Huncke,
Luanne Henderson, Alan Ansen, Orlovsky, not cool enough, too druggy, too gay,
too whatever? If Howl makes it to England I'll be sure to see it, yet
it'll be with the nagging knowledge that they've re-imagined the past. Shig
will be absent. See below a link for some background stuff on Shig.
is now ten long years since Compendium Bookshop in London's Camden Town
closed down. After starting up in the late 1960s the store shut it's doors
for the last time in 2000. With a wonderful mix of books that simply couldn't
be found anywhere else in Britain and a knowledgeable staff who stayed loyal
to the place for decades, Chris Render, Diana, Mike & co, it was a beacon of
a place and drew people from all over the country. As I feared, nobody has
stepped in to fill the huge gap it left. The internet and in particular,
monsters like Amazon, have decimated the book world, actual places you can
physically visit and look for books, have disappeared almost on a daily
basis. Now it is the soulless click of a mouse. Waterstones promised for a
while, Borders promised for a while, but both have failed miserably, offering
the same bland, middle of the road fare. Sad disappointments. Foyles in the
Charing Cross Road have a decent - ish poetry section but it too, falls far
short of what Compendium could offer. Where are the small press publications
that Compendium excelled in supplying? It is all so corporate and neat. OK,
so you might find a few Bukowski's and the more easily obtained Gary Snyder's
and Kerouac's, but they don't go the extra yards that Compendium did to stock
those harder to find titles. And outside London, forget it. Look in the
literary sections of Waterstones and similar around the country, you might
discover On The Road and Naked Lunch, if you're really lucky. Otherwise it is
a wealth of Faber & Faber titles, the usual poetry classics suspects. It is
as if Columbus never made it to America and they haven't discovered it.
Hearing of the early death of Compendium stalwart Chris Render recently
reminded me of how much I miss this wonderful place, akin to and much better
even than New York's late lamented Gotham Book Mart. The coin an old
hackneyed phrase, Compendium was a 'destination.' The fun of being in such a
place, packed floor to ceiling with books, many from America, Beats, New York
School, you name it, was such fun. It is doubtful we will ever see such a
bookstore again. A big shame.
OUT NOW -
THE LAST DAYS OF JACK KEROUAC
by James Birmingham. No 27 in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series. 125
numbered copies. If you would like to order a copy, click the button below.
book of letters, what can be said....? Just brilliant
spellbinding reading. It is a reminder, if one was ever needed, of why
Ginsberg and Kerouac hold a fascination for so many people. This big
collection will tell you more about them than fifty biographies.
Their fears, hopes, frustrations. As they wonder when America will discover
them. They have that dogged belief that they are very talented writers and
that they have big things to say. They are a little support group of two,
sustaining each other through difficult times. About three quarters of these
letters are previously unpublished and they reveal almost everything you need
to know about them both. That around the time of the John Clellon Holmes
debut novel GO, he wasn't their best friend. Kerouac is openly dismissive and
hostile towards him in letters. But then, that was Jack. As fickle as the
wind it seems. Chart his friendship with J.C. Holmes by contrasting the
letters between them at similar points. It lets you know Kerouac, for all his
study and espousal of Buddhism, (and Catholicism for that matter) was as
capable of envy, jealously, tetchiness as anyone, he was human after all and
not really a king. Ginsberg and Kerouac fall out and reconvene, friendly as
you like weeks later, mostly touchiness on Kerouac's part. But its good that we get to know more about less
celebrated people like Sheila Williams from Ginsberg & Al Sublette and
Stanley Gould from Kerouac, amongst a whole squadron of unsung friends and
fellow artists & writers that they mixed with in New York and San Francisco.
First meetings with Robert Duncan, Philip Lamantia are transmitted in
letters. So funny to hear how friendships that later flowered got off to
inauspicious starts. I've got to mid 1955, they are still waiting for their
breaks in their lives that will hurl them headlong into notoriety as much as
critical acclaim. Arguably one of the biggest 'Beat' books of the past ten
years or more. So much more could be said, but it would spoil it all for you. If you haven't got a copy, what are you waiting for?
from going to the Michael McClure reading at the Ledbury Festival on July 2. On the face of it a 'Beat poet' at a sleepy small town literary
event seems out of the ordinary. So credit must be given to the organisers
and Worcester University who, I understand, sponsored the event. Ledbury is a
lovely little town - traditional long high street. I half expected the ghost
of Thomas Hardy to be strolling down the street - it has that air. It is
impressive that they have two venues like this to put things on in. The
Prince of Wales pub in that little alleyway of a street was lovely. Michael's event kicked off the whole festival and it was a very well
attended gig at the Community Hall, which looked to hold about 250 people.
Michael was introduced by his friend filmmaker Colin Still. (see
www.opticnerve.co.uk) Despite some
debilitating illness, both himself and wife Amy, in recent times Michael read many favourites and
delighted the crowd with little stories and a memory or two. Good to meet up
with Chris Moughton from Lechlade. And Glen Storhaug of Five Seasons Press.
As well as young film maker Nic Saunders. Nic is currently working on an
Allen Ginsberg film. Today, Saturday, saw four films presented by Colin
Still. documentaries on Frank O'Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Michael
McClure. Colin and Michael discussed the films with the audience and answered
questions. The McClure film was aired for the first time in public. I wasn't
aware of how well McClure knew O'Hara. Obviously I'd associated him with Gary
Snyder and Allen Ginsberg, so this was something new. He is not especially
interested in talking about Bob Dylan, his expression when asked about that
link said it all. It was a long time ago. His new book, MYSTERIOSOS (New
Directions Press) emphasised that while McClure will forever be associated
with the Beats he has moved on and remains a fully active, developing
American poet as concerned with the modern world as he was in the heyday of
Kerouac & co. Performances with Ray Manzarek, Charles Lloyd and Terry Riley,
amongst others are more relevant to him these days. He also read at the
London Review Bookshop in Bury Place by the British Museum in London
on Thursday evening, July 8, and Collin Still also screened his documentary
Michael McClure: Abstract Alchemist of Flesh. It was a lovely evening
in a lovely bookstore. A full house packed into every nook and cranny.
Kerouac biographer Steve Turner was there, playwright Richard Deakin (Angels
Still Falling - the controversial Kerouac play) also there, a big McClure
fan, a bunch of household names on the English poetry scene that I know
nothing about and the event was introduced by the sheer excellent Iain
Sinclair. Iain, I was looking to see if you had notes, but you didn't - how
do you do that? Setting the scene with your special mix of erudition and
idiosyncrasy. Good to round off the evening with a visit to the Museum pub
just around the corner. By the time you read this Michael McClure will be
home in California.
Oh, I forgot to
mention. Beat fan Johnny Depp wrote a letter in recent times. Not every day a
letter comes in the mail from a star of the silver screen I can tell you.
Johnny was very nice and encouraging about Beat Scene. He really does follow
the history of the Beats and reads the books. It was lovely of him to drop a
line, he must be very busy. Thank you Johnny.
people remain fascinated by the late poet Lew Welch. An aura of mystery still
envelopes him. Is he truly dead? Or did he walk off and choose another life
somewhere else? His body has never been discovered. As well as being a member
of the Reed College trio with Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder, he was an
integral part of the West Coast Beat Generation, he must have been in the
frame to read at The Six Gallery in the mid 1950s. Of course Welch was also a
good friend to Jack Kerouac, along with their mutual friend Albert Saijo, he
penned TRIP TRAP, with Jack, and the pair exchanged many, many letters in the
1950s and 1960s. So I'm doubly pleased to say that The Beat Scene Pocket Book
No 26 is LETTERS FROM LEW WELCH and it is available NOW.
Published in an edition of 125 numbered copies. If you would like to
order you can do it - UK and Europe only
- on the button below. Overseas, please email me.
Beat Scene62 is out now. Charles Bukowski and Dan Fante are amongst the
contributors. There is a new interview with Carolyn Cassady, an interview
with Richard Brautigan's first wife, Virginia Aste. John Cohassey writes on
Kerouac in Chicago, Daniel Bratton files a terrific article on Eric Mottram,
Gillian Thomson recalls Elise Cowen, Jim Burns on Migrant magazine, plus
there is an extract from a new book about Charles Bukowski, Kevin Opstedal
returns to the Bolinas scene, Thea Snyder Lowry, Gary Snyder's late sister,
contributes, the Beat Hotel & more... Oh and you subscribers only received another broadside with your copy. All subscriber copies will include extras
in the future. Single copies in the
UK are £6.95 including postage in a reinforced envelope. If you would like to
order a copy, click the button below. THIS IS UK ONLY - Overseas
see under Gary Snyder just below.
wishes to Gary Snyder, 80 in May. A monumental poet and force for good.
SCENE 62 IN USA, JAPAN, AUSTRALIA & similar regions. Please click on
Out NOW is
another issue of my other little Beat Generation influenced magazine. This is number 23. In this latest issue is poetry from
Anne Waldman, ruth weiss, Neeli Cherkovski, Ed Sanders, David Meltzer, Jack
Micheline, Diane di Prima, Barry Gifford, Charles Plymell, Lawrence
Ferlinghetti, Tim Hunt on Slim Gaillard, and an excerpt from Charles
Bukowski's Scarlet by Pamela 'Cupcakes' Wood. Copies in the UK are £5
including postage. (Cheques payable M.Ring) OVERSEAS please email me.
I have a copy of Transit 22 up for
grabs. William Burroughs cover, the issue includes poetry from Joanna Mcclure,
Jack Micheline, Janine Pommy Vega, Tom Pickard, Barry Gifford, Ruth Weiss,
Neeli Cherkovski, Charles Plymell and a James Birmingham essay on William
Burroughs. Copies are £5 in the UK and £6 elsewhere. For UK only click this
button below. Overseas please email me.
If you have
about 26 minutes to spare, why not click on this link and watch PULL MY
DAISY where Jack narrates the film. In his own spontaneous way, I do
believe this is truly off the cuff, no editors involved.
That lovely man musician David Amram sent this
photo taken of him in 1957 at The Five Spot in NYC. The place that he
accompanied Jack Kerouac and others in - doing jazz readings way back. The
photo is by Burt Glinn.
A recent chapbook
is CHARLES BUKOWSKI: CENSORSHIP DOES
by Abel Debritto.
A fine piece of research. 125 numbered
copies. If you would like to order a copy, click the button here.
Call me a Luddite but books will never be
bettered by technology. You can download & digitise forever and read stuff on
your orangeberry or whatever it is, nothing beats paper. It's a little like I
read about that guy out of The White Stripes, Jack somebody, talking the other day, he
downloads music but he has to have the vinyl album, its a tactile thing. Same
with books. And speaking of books, isn't it such a pity that all our used
bookstores are disappearing with the encroachment of the internet. My home
town has never been overly blessed with them. The actual town centre had one
for a while, though I rarely go into Coventry. There was one on the other side
of town which I went into quite a bit. It wasn't great, the owner didn't seem
to add to his stock at all. There is a barn like place right out of town - it
is very English in the stock it has, as though they haven't realised America
has been discovered. The poetry section is filled with Larkin, Betjeman,
Chaucer and the like. Disappointing mostly. The only one that saves the day
in Coventry is Robert Gill's Gosford Books. Situated opposite the Art
College in the remnants of a row of old Coventry housing and just by the
rapidly expanding Coventry university and art gallery. He has been there
for about twenty five years. It is small, it used to be gloomy, dusty - there
was a clock ticking
away - though it seems to have brightened up a little. An old two up two down house. There are books lined on the steep
stairs, but the upper floor isn't open. I don't know why. It has the
look of a very traditional 1950s bookstore. The owner is sometimes
to be found having his lunch at the desk, some classical music or Bob Dylan
in the background. They've recently extended a little out the back and the
place is piled high with books.
The book prices are pretty fair by today's standards. Poetry, art, cinema,
fiction, etc etc. It has the look of a 1950s Charing Cross Road emporium, the
display is from that era and there are books outside in baskets. There is even a shelf of Beat titles on his desk.
Hunter Thompson, Olson, Bukowski, Burroughs, Kerouac, Miller et al.
Owner Robert Gill is friendly when you get to talk a little, though not
expansive and he lets you alone. He owns the place and says he isn't going
anywhere. Doesn't have anything to do with the internet, and says if you want
to buy a book off him you have to visit his shop. I get the impression he
likes being independent. He's mainly open in the
afternoons, including Sundays til 6.30. In an age where Amazon and the like have wiped
the floor with used bookstores, Robert Gill's little bookshop is a most
welcome anachronism, a real throwback. 116 Gosford Street, Coventry CV1
5DL. Tel 02476-220813
------------------------------------------------- Going for 15
years, my other little Beat Generation themed magazine TRANSIT has
number 23 out NOW. A smaller 6" x 8" inches format, this issue is
filled with poetry from Anne Waldman, ruth weiss, Neeli Cherkovski, Ed
Sanders, David Meltzer, Diane di Prima, Barry Gifford, Charles Plymell,
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tim Hunt on Slim Gaillard and an excerpt from Pamela
'Cupcakes' Morgan's memoir of her time with Charles Bukowski. In the UK this
is £4 including postage. Cheques to M.Ring (better for me) or by the button
below. Overseas please email me.
Whilst rounding off
mailing out the current issue and taking a few minutes for a breather, an
interesting statistic sprung up while doing the post. The percentage
split between UK subscribers and overseas is uncannily virtually a 50%
figure. Subscriptions from America make up a sizeable proportion and an
increasing number from Scandinavian countries. The UK proportion is actually
falling, which is in very direct contrast to the earlier days of the
magazine. This is disappointing and something I'm puzzled and dismayed about,
I feel the magazine has improved with every issue. If I wasn't so modest
(ahem), I'd say nobody is ever really appreciated in their own backyard. At
the moment America likes Beat Scene more than the English do. Subscriber
copies are all posted now, so all you loyal subbers should have your copies
now, complete with subscriber only Kerouac broadside. Certainly
helping to keep me fit. Drop me a note when you receive your copy. Comments
always welcome. Go on, go crazy.
that intrigued me of late is yet another deluxe edition of On The Road
has surfaced. Going for a cool $1,000 it puzzles me why there is a need for
such a publication. It does include paintings from one of America's most
but does this justify such a fee? It smacks of blatant exploitation to be
honest. And it diminishes Jack Kerouac in my view. There is so much more to
him, a string of novels and poetry collections. People rave about Mexico
City Blues, Dylan waxes lyrical about that, as does Michael McClure, yet
it is consigned to the shadows. Maggie Cassidy? A beautiful novel.
Visions of Cody. A book that many rate more highly than On The Road,
Kerouac certainly thought much of it. Fine as On the Road is - I still
prefer the edited first edition if I'm honest - Kerouac is no one hit wonder.
Only those with fat wallets will opt for this exercise in pure money making.
Let them have it I say. It is far from the reasons that Jack wrote.
Beat Scene 61 is
out now. It includes Harold Norse, Burroughs, Jim Carroll, Seymour Krim,
Lenore Kandel, Dan Fante, Michael McClure, Jack Kerouac & more.
Subscriber copies and advance orders have all been mailed. You should have
your copy by now. Work is progressing daily on No 62 and I'm looking at late May for that
A couple of Beat Scene Press chapbooks have
been prepared. One of them is John Fante: A
Conversation with Ben Pleasants. That is out NOW. There is a button below for people in the
UK to click on. If you live overseas email me and I'll send you details. As always let me know if books in this
ongoing series are of interest to you. Once again they are in editions of
just 125 copies. Numbered as always. And, I'm working on a new
departure which I hope to bring news of in the near future. Watch this space.
Our Jack Kerouac special
came out in October2009. Sadly it wasn't delivered by Aubrey, who has brought it here for a very long time, he died
after a short illness. I'll miss his sharp Yorkshire wit and stories about the biggest fish you ever saw getting
away. Marking forty years since the death of Jack. Contributors include
Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Ann Charters, Iain Sinclair, Barry Gifford,
David Amram and others. Subscribers have been contacted by email about an
offer on this issue. ( I thank the 35 people who have taken me up on this
offer). Subscribers got a Kerouac broadside with their copy.
If you would
like a copy please get in touch. There are only a few left.
If you live
inside the UK here is a button above to order at £6.95 including post. REMEMBER, THIS IS A UK ONLY BUTTON. Scroll down a little for Overseas
Helen Weaver has a site and she has some words about her new book
about her times with Jack Kerouac and others THE AWAKENER - go to
Later in 2009
LETTER FROM SAN FRANCISCO by Philip Lamantia was collected from
the printer. It is number 23 in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series. It
is a long essay/letter from a teenage Lamantia that was sent to an English
literary magazine in 1947. In it Lamantia lays out his hopes and dreams for
the future. The essay has languished in oblivion since then, possibly a
victim of Lamantia's notorious tendency to throw things away or destroy them.
So, I'm pleased that permission was given to republish after all these years. If you would like a copy, they are all numbered. Click on the box
below. They are £6.95 each, and that includes postage worldwide.
You may have read one or two of his books, CHUMP
CHANGE, SPITTING OFF TALL BUILDINGS, MOOCH, CORKSUCKER, KISSED BY A FAT
WAITRESS, ARIZONA HIGHWAY, DON GIOVANNI and others, but have you heard
Dan Fante read? In a revealing and sometimes
heartrending half hour interview on NPR radio in the USA, Dan talks with
great candour. His new book, the fourth in the Bruno Dante series, his alter
ego, is recently published. If you think you knew Dan Fante, just wait til
you hear him. At this link you will also be able to read an extract from the
THE GAME & OTHER POEMS by Jack Hirschman
is a very recent Beat Scene Press Pocket Book. Number 22 in the series.
Limited to 125 signed and numbered copies. It is £6.95 in the UK. Everywhere
else please send me an email.
late Summer in 2009 was a new Beat Scene Press Pocket Book. Number 21 in the series -
Tom Pickard's WORK CONCHY relates the story of how a teenage poet from
Newcastle upon Tyne in the North east of England brought the Beat poets to an
ancient tower on the old city wall in the 1960s. Allen Ginsberg, Gregory
Corso, Robert Creeley, David Meltzer, Jack Hirschman, Ed Dorn and so many
others - they all made the trek there over the years. The chapbook also
chronicles the fight Pickard had with the local authorities to be a poet in
an age when young men were expected to do as they were told. Published in an
edition of 125 signed and numbered copies. It can be got in the UK by clicking on the button below. All other regions please email me.
got in touch recently with news of Ted Joans, which I'll be posting up as
soon as I can. Meanwhile here is a little five minute clip of David with
Alfred Leslie, talking about PULL MY DAISY.
Beat Scene magazine No 59 came out later in 2009. It sports a Charles Bukowski
cover image. In a packed issue William Burroughs, David Meltzer, Kay Johnson,
Herbert Huncke, Jack Kerouac, Tom Pickard, and Harold Norse all feature. Plus
an article about seminal New York Beat magazine Intrepid & more besides.
Click below for a copy in the UK ONLY
Jack Kerouac special issue is out NOW.
Marking 40 years since Kerouac's death. Subscribers will get their copy as it
will be Beat Scene 60. A little landmark. If you would like a copy or an
extra copy get in touch. At the above email. Copies will be sent to
subscribers as normal and any after that are strictly on a first come first
served basis. Overseas it is $15. If you live OVERSEAS you can click this
button to order.
Snyder might well be keen to see him being interviewed by Lew Sitzer on
NCTV11. The filmed intervew is fractionally over an hour long. Don't expect a
trip down memory lane. Snyder is firmly and mostly in the here and now. He is
preoccupied with bio-regionalism. biodiversity, language, fire management
where he lives and so on. Have a look at
RecentlyTransit magazine, issue 21, was published.
As the discerning among you will know, it is a little magazine devoted to all
things Beat Generation. Measuring approximately 6" x 9" it includes poetry
from Jack Hirschman, David Meltzer, Barry Gifford and Dan Fante. Plus there
is a big essay on Leroi and Hettie Jones and their seminal 1950s magazine
YUGEN. Hettie Jones was happy with it. The issue is now sold out.
A little poser for you Beat 'Sherlock Holmes'
characters out there. On the official Allen Ginsberg site there is a five
minute movie of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Lucien Carr on a street
corner in New York City around 1964, Peter Hale of the Allen Ginsberg project
reckons. Can you fill in any details? Give names to the other individuals/
See it at
Out from the Beat Scene Press is CARL WEISSNER,
CHARLES BUKOWSKI'S SECRET AGENT. An edition of one hundred numbered
copies. It is number 20 in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series. It is £6
including postage. Click here to buy a copy.
Not many people this side of the pond will have heard
that Bukowski's photographer, Michael Montfort, died late last year. Montfort
gave us many striking images of Bukowski. Being a man who liked his privacy
it was somehow surprising that Bukowski allowed Montfort in. But the two got
on and for many years Montfort kept snapping. You'll see his pictures in
books such as SHAKESPEARE NEVER DID THIS. But in many more besides. There
is a feature on Michael Montfort in Beat Scene 59.
A recent Beat Scene Press Pocketbook is Barry Gifford's NEW POEMS.
It is number 19 in the series. It is a signed
and numbered edition of 125 copies. You may know Barry Gifford as the
co-author with the late Lawrence Lee of the biography of Jack Kerouac JACK'S
BOOK. Many years ago Gifford also penned KEROUAC'S TOWN. Since those days he
has become an acclaimed writer. WILD AT HEART, THE IMAGINATION OF THE HEART,
PORT TROPIQUE and many others. Get in touch if you would like a copy, these
little brown books prove very popular.
Click below if you would like a copy
came out just before last Christmas. Number 57. I was very pleased with it, especially the lovely cover photo of Allen
Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, which was taken by Gordon Ball. I've been very
busy mailing out subscriber and store copies, both for England and overseas.
(Like an idiot I actually spent Boxing day morning doing this!) - I'm sending out copies to everyone in reinforced
envelopes these days. It is very time consuming and more expensive doing this but I figure it
helps to get the issue to you in a decent shape it is worth the time and
money. I did
subscribe to the English music monthly MOJO in recent years but when my first
subscriber copy came through the mail in a flimsy plastic bag - all dog eared
and unloved - I cancelled my sub with them and went back to buying it off the
shelf. And I thought I don't want the same thing happening to your copies. I
know a lot of you store your copies carefully and would like to get them in
neat shape. So this should do the trick. Hands up those that leave them down
the back of the sofa with a coffee cup ring on the front cover!?
THIS ISSUE NOW SOLD OUT.
And continuing with the William Burroughs theme - you may
recall an interview with film maker Lars Movin we conducted in a recent issue
of Beat Scene - Lars sent a number of Burroughs images taken in Denmark from
the film Movin made - WORDS OF ADVICE - WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS ON THE ROAD
- released in 2007, that
we were not able to use for one reason or another. So here are a couple of them
here. Here is a link to a short trailer for the film.
October there was a Beat Generation Symposium held in Chicago. Joanne Kyger
and Michael McClure were there. Also there was Liz Von Vogt who recently had
681 LEXINGTON AVENUE: A BEAT EDUCATION IN NEW YORK CITY 1947-1954
published. In that book she recalls her young life mixing with her brother
John Clellon Holmes and his friends such as Jack Kerouac. You can hear Liz
speak and read from her book if you click the link here.
recent issue of Transit magazine, number 20,
out. It features an extended essay on the interview Jack
Kerouac did with The Paris Review a year before his death. Plus an interview
with Joanne Kyger, poetry from Michael McClure and Barry Gifford, Jim Burns
on William Wantling and a little feature on Anne Waldman's new recording.
Copies are £4 in the UK. If you live in the UK and would like to order,
click the box below.
Issue 56 is out NOW.
If you would
like to order a copy of Beat Scene 56 and you live
in the UK- click on the button below
A recent book in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series
is a signed and
numbered story by Dan Fante. Not many of this one left.
If you would like a copy -
A few of you might know I publish another Beat influenced magazine.
Transit. No 19 is now ready. In fact it is almost sold out. Featuring poetry from David Meltzer, Diane di Prima, Barry Gifford and Jack Foley with an essay on Charles Olson and
Projective Verse. A single issue in the UK is £4 including post. Either by
cheque payable to M.Ring ( I much prefer that) - OR by paypal to the Beat
Scene email address. To the USA it is $12 cash OR by paypal. Europe is 10
Euros OR by paypal - FOR UK only click below.
COOL KEROUAC, by Jim Burns - number 17 in the
Pocket Books series, out now. Signed and numbered.
REMEMBERING JACK KEROUAC
by John Clellon Holmes is number 16 in the Beat Scene Press Pocket Book
series. 125 numbered copies. Click below for a copy
IN THE UK ONLY (Overseas please email
BEAT SCENE 55 is still available. Copies in the UK are
£6.50. Click below for A UK copy only.
Overseas please send me an
For something special on Allen Ginsberg - you can go to
http://www.reed.edu/reed_magazine/winter2008/features/the_beats/and hear the earliest
known recording of Allen Ginsberg reading major parts of HOWL, recorded at
Reed College in Oregon prior to his first public reading at the Six Gallery.
The recording was co-discovered by John Suiter who is writing a biography of
"1963. On the way to Bolinas we stopped for gas and I borrowed Ginsberg's
camera after taking that photo from backseat of Neal under torn headliner in
his '39 Pontiac." (Charles Plymell from Neal and Anne at Gough Street.)"
The Beat Scene Press has published NEAL AND ANNE AT GOUGH STREET by
Charles Plymell. Number 14 in the pocket book series, it is numbered in an edition of 125 copies and signed by Charles Plymell. Copies
in the UK are £5.95 ...........OVERSEAS - please email for price.
BEAT SCENE 54 OUT NOW.
Scroll down a little to buy a copy in the UK.
Overseas please email.
A recent issue of my other little Beat Generation magazine, Transit, is out
now. Number 18 is given over to an essay on Gary Snyder. Copies are
£3.50 in the UK. Overseas please ask.
NOW OUT in the continuing Beat Scene Press Pocket Book series is
REXROTH, BUKOWSKI AND THE POLITICS OF LITERATURE by Ben Pleasants. 125
signed and numbered copies, out NOW. £5.95
Beat Scene 53
. Articles include interviews
with both Joyce Johnson and Hettie Jones, big stuff on Burroughs, Yugen
magazine, Jack Kerouac & more besides. Copies are £5.95 in the UK.
Overseas please scroll down the page just past this image of Jack Kerouac
USA copies of BEAT SCENE 53 here, click on the
button below for a copy to be airmailed ...
Allen Ginsberg - Died 1997
I met Allen Ginsberg years ago outside a pub in Lowell
in Massachusetts. June 1988. He had done a reading and my diary tells me he
had been signing copies of his new book of photographs, something that took
over more and more of his time later in his life. He was talking to a lot of
people outside the bar, it was a cold and windy night and I recall him kindly
saying to me that my young son shouldn't be out so late at night, it was
around midnight. My son Nathan was eight. I agreed and said I didn't have
much option as we were on holiday together alone. We talked about John
Clellon Holmes who had died around that time. Allen spoke of one or two
ailments of his own. It was late and yet he seemed keen to talk to everybody
despite the hour and that it had been a long day for him, beginning at The
Whistler Museum early in the day. I had just started Beat Scene by then and
he encouraged me to use his photos in it. I was impressed by his generosity.
He wrote me a couple of brief letters afterwards and then years later sent a
postcard or two asking about the magazine. I always sent him copies but
whether he always saw them I don't know, as he was always moving around. A
few days earlier I had been sitting in Brighams ice cream shop in Kearney
Square in Lowell, having a chocolate milk shake with Ben Woitena, the creator
of the terrific Kerouac park in Lowell. Ben was from Texas and told me all
about the work on the big monolith type slabs he'd created with Kerouac's
words carved into each one. He loved an American band The Sir Douglas
Quintet, probably because they too were from Texas. He seemed pleased when I
said I had heard them. I'm certainly the right age. A lovely man. Sitting in
the next booth were Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg. Not sure
whether they were having a milkshake. We walked down to the Kerouac park with
Ben, pouring with rain and looked and admired them. In the late afternoon I
went into a council office in the centre of Lowell and got to see Kerouac's
typewriter and to try on his rucksack. I almost sank to my knees. Even later that day we were at
the Pawtucketville Social Club, quite a gathering there. Allen, Lawrence,
Henri Cru, Edie Parker, lots of fans like me as well. There was an electrical
sorm and the power was out and candles were lit. I recall going to a
Greek restaurant with a few people, the friendly Henry Hefco and his wife,
(my son was very impressed with Henry's gym), Dean Contover, Tony Sampas amongst them. I think Allen
JACK KEROUAC - born March 12, 1922
- would've been 85 in 2007. The photo below on the right is one the English
Sunday Times used for his obituary notice.
left here, JK on the Steve Allen TV show in
1959...Are you nervous Jack? Right, in The Kettle of Fish Bar in NYC,
BEAT SCENE friend and subscriber Joe Lee attended a reading by Carolyn
Cassady in San Francisco in recent times and sent in a few photos of the
start, from left to right - here's one of Joe Lee, Al Hinkle (Jack Kerouac's
big buddy from late 1940s and 1950s and heavily featured in ON THE ROAD of
course), Carolyn Cassady's daughter Cathy Cassady Sylvia and her husband
George Sylvia. Thanks for sending them in Joe.
above, Carolyn Cassady with Joe Lee
Left, Joe Lee, Al Hinkle & Cathy Cassady
right above, here's another of Carolyn Cassady from
a few years ago in Scotland when she attended a play about herself, Neal
Cassady and Jack Kerouac, the actors who played them are with her.
above, another photo sent in by arch snapper Joe Lee of
John Cassady and Jami Cassady, two children of Carolyn and Neal Cassady.
Photo taken 2006 in San Francisco.
and above, Carolyn Cassady in Florida in 1999 with film
maker Judy Sharples.
above, Neal Cassady & the ill fated Natalie Jackson in
the early 1970s Iain Sinclair and his friends battled their way though the
making of a film about Allen Ginsberg in London and efforts to interview him
and others including William Burroughs. That filming developed into a book -
THE KODAK MANTRA DIARIES. A distinctive spiral bound affair that quickly sold
out. In it Sinclair captured something of the spirit of the times - both for
Ginsberg and for London, not to mention he and his friends. Just before Christmas 2006 I published Iain's book
once again in an expanded edition of 500 copies.
copies of THE KODAK MANTRA DIARIESsigned by Iain Sinclair. If
you would like one of these they are £12 including post in the UK.
I think Beat Scene 51 (see below) issue is desirable simply because of the very
special Jack Kerouac content alone. I guarantee it is something you won't have seen before. And
people have commented on the big Bolinas content, I believe this is the
biggest focus those times has received to date and hope it will push others
into further research of the era and the poets who gathered there. I
wanted to really investigate this late 1960s, early 1970s loose community of
poets and so spoke to a number of them to get their recollections of the
time. Writers included were David Meltzer, Joanne Kyger, Anne Waldman, Lewis
Warsh, Larry Kearney, Duncan McNaughton, Tom and Angelica Clark, Alice Notley
and others. I
know of at least one writer who has been enthused enough to begin putting
together a book about this community. On the cover are Lewis Warsh and Anne Waldman, over 35 years
ago. Two poets who are still going strong. Copies of this issue are down to the last few boxes and my
garage is emptying.
If you live in the UK click here for a copy of BEAT SCENE 51 for UK buyers ONLY below
USA, JAPAN & AUSTRALIA go to BACK ISSUES
TO PURCHASE A COPY
TRANSIT magazine, our other little Beat Generation hued magazine continues.
Number 17 is not long out. Includes poetry from Tom Clark, Alice Notley, David Meltzer, Anne
Waldman, Lewis Warsh, Barry Gifford, Diane di Prima, Dharma Bum John Montgomery, Janine Pommy Vega, Joanne Kyger,
Ruth Weiss, Beat archivist Arthur Winfield Knight. £4.25 including
post in the UK.
BEAT SCENE 51 for EUROPEAN residents only, BUY HERE
you live in Europe, USA/Australia, Japan
click below for a copy of the Beat Scene Special issue THE KODAK MANTRA
DIARIES. Cost is £7.50 inc post.
AND, Beat Scene Press published the fifth in the Beat Scene
Pocket Books series, which is poet and biographer Tom Clark's LETTERS HOME FROM CAMBRIDGE
1963-65. Clark studied in Cambridge, England in that period and his letters
are a snapshot of poetic life in the early 60s. Produced in an edition of 100 signed and numbered copies. Strictly
on a first come first served basis. Copies are £5.95 each including postage
in the UK.
BEAT SCENE SUBSCRIPTION FOR USA, JAPAN,
AUSTRALIA ---CLICK HERE
is available, it features Barry Gifford, Tisa Walden, Michael McClure,
Diane di Prima, David Meltzer, Tom Clark, Ted Joans, Jack Hirschman, Dan
Fante, Arthur Winfield Knight, Janine Pommy Vega, Anne Waldman, Henry
Denander, Ron Whitehead & Roger Taus on William Carlos Williams.. copies are
£4.25 including post. Either by cheque in UK payable to M.Ring. OR BY
CLICKING HERE BELOW
AND, SPEAKING OF TRANSIT, I'VE FINALLY FOUND THE BOX OF
TRANSIT 3 FROM 1993. THIS IS THE KEROUAC SPECIAL ISSUE,
A LONG ESSAY BY JIM BURNS ON KEROUAC AND JAZZ. A NUMBER OF PEOPLE HAVE ASKED
ABOUT THIS ISSUE OVER THE YEARS. HERE'S YOUR CHANCE TO GET A COPY. BEFORE
THEY GET LOST AGAIN.
TRANSIT No 15
is out now. It includes essays on Gary
Snyder and Jack Kerouac, poetry from Dan Fante, Diane di Prima, Tom Clark,
David Meltzer, Arthur Winfield Knight, Charles Plymell, Anne Waldman, Neeli
Cherkovski, Barry Gifford, Robert Creeley, Tisa Walden and Jim Burns You can
buy a copy by clicking below.
BUKOWSKI SPECIAL ISSUE
In 2004 we decided to mark the 10th anniversary of the
death of Charles Bukowski (above). To mark the date Beat Scene magazine published an entire special
issue devoted to the man.
We included interviews with his longtime friend and Black Sparrow Press
publisher John Martin, a substantial interview with the man who
photographed him over the decades, Michael Montfort. Girlfriends, he had
a few, but Linda King was a significant
woman in his life, we interview Linda. We look at Bukowski at the racetrack, his time with Jon and Lou
Webb down in New Orleans being published by the Loujon Press. We
investigate his longterm publishing history with Marvin Malone's
Wormwood Review magazine and publish a photo of Marvin Malone, a rarity.
There's an interview with his German translator Carl Weissner and much
more. Full colour covers, including two striking portraits of Bukowski.
All this for £6.50 including post - either by cheque payable to
M.Ring or by clicking below.