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Meanwhile, Back On Sutters Mill Lane…

l3c2f3044-m1mFaithful Readers,
As today is a celebration of sorts, we look back – as is done at most celebratory times. One year ago today, our intrepid verbalist arrived in Ellensburg to make his home. He left behind Pennsylvania after fifty (‘fifty stinking years’ as he puts it) annums. He enjoys Ellensburg immensely but shudders in disgust when thinking back on his old neighborhood. Shown in the photo above, he had a nice little house there, all hidden in the shrubbery.

The odd thing is, it remained the only house with shrubbery in the neighborhood. When he arrived, no shrubs existed. He planted all of them with the exception of the two unimaginative forsythias on each corner…which did make nice homes for the robins. Now the shrubs have probably all been cut down, thanks to the PA Dutch/nazi german control-issues most inhabitants possess…think Stepford Wives only fat and stupid with poor taste in food.
They hate things that grow. They threw weed killer on his sunflowers. No beauty allowed.

When he built a porch to improve the property, Shiela Septic commented. Shiela and her two Septic parents always had a comment. One reason she could not keep a man for more than two months was largely due to suitors (haha) having to listen to parental wis-dumb through a cloud of smoke. White trash smoke. See, Shiela’s parents visited every day, an odd thing for a woman in her early fifties(they helped her with the down-payment and it thus became their vacation home) and they smoked a lot.
Maybe they are dead now! One can only hope!

Oh! The comment…in her typical daily rage, Shiela went red in the face (she was always red in the face, really) and let forth a pithy insult…”Why don’t you go sit on your porch?” The emphasis placed on the word ‘porch’ spat out in a tone usually reserved for crack houses. The sheer lameness of the insult disappointed him.
Sometimes she would find a man and the parents’ cars would not be seen for a week. Then they would show up and the new boyfriend’s car would disappear, along with the schmuck who saw something in her.

For those unfamiliar with white trash smoke – it is not ommitted solely by caucasians, it is called that because it comes from the cheapo brand of cigarettes that are displayed alongside the lottery machine. White trash love lottery tickets. Mostly anybody with no money loves a lottery ticket. Since we are all caucasians here, white trash is fair game, we reckon!

In his Ellensburg motel room, Hendrick found twenty lottery tickets under the cushion of the kitchenette table, coincidentally.
This sure sign that rooms at the Motel 6 in Ellensburg are never really clean unless guests clean up (yeah, right) after themselves following a stay is an open warning to all. Five months is a long time. The tickets were dated September 1, 2013. Some loser paid $20 to play Room Number 223 twenty times, as if ending up in that room was a good omen. No one lifted the cushion to clean there for five full months before Hendrick entered the room. Remember that, Motel 6-ers!

Yet, somehow, even the Motel 6 was an improvement from the cute little house on Sutters Mill Lane. People were friendly and accepting. The immediate acceptance Hendrick found in the burg amazed him. He likened it to the friendly little towns in upstate New York from whence he came. He loved his property, he just hated the narrow-minded fucks surrounding it. Here we see our hero in Room 223, framed by an example of how he made it a home for seven months.motelhome And here is a shot of the wonderful Washington sky from the motel balcony. The sky could not even be seen in Temple, but for the wires, lights and pollution.m6 Let it suffice to say he carries no regrets in leaving…all regret stayed in Temple with the Septics and all the other local dutch folk. Dutch people look friendly on the label of a can of corn but they are mean bastards in real life and if Michael Hendrick could pass on one life lesson, that might be it…

Of course no place is perfect and Ellensburg is not without it’s own supply of dumb assholes. Most of them move here from places like Seattle or other urban centers. They bring their ways…the leased cars, the lack of real property of their own, the tribal sports rituals. They don’t get it. Some of them are ex-police who have PTSD and sleep with all the lights on each night spying on neighbors who’s lives they intend to micro-manage once they get settled. The usual white trash stuff…

In Temple, Hendrick sold his home for $20,000 below the market value and made up the difference on Wall Street by trading in chinese stocks. The rest of the houses took a plunge in value and any money the Septics’ put into the little nightmare they call home is lost. By the time the mortgage is paid off, the house will be worth about forty thousand dollars less than it was when purchased.
Tough, huh? That’s one thing that can happen when you piss off the neighbors…they take your money in ways you cannot control…if you have neighbors like Michael Hendrick, that is…

We do not condone his actions but they do amuse us!

This is a free blog…if you find typos, please live with them.

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Obviously Pregnant???

devilTimid Readers, Please do not let the image of the devil scare you. We just post that to focus the attention on good things which have been turned to evil.
Like the Bible.
On Christmas Eve, Michael Hendrick reportedly attended a function to celebrate the spiritual holiday. The highlight was the host telling a story as it was described. The ‘story’ was the saga of the birth of Christ. It may have deserved a better designation than ‘story’but when the Bible is read from a Kindle or an I-Pad,  it stops being the Word of God.
According to the E-Bible, Mary was not with child as we have been taught these many years. No, now we learn that the Mother of the Christ was not ‘with child’ but she was obviously pregnant.
The first definition of ‘pregnant’in Merriam Webster is ‘cogent,’ meaning…: very clear and easy for the mind to accept and believe ~ or we can look at meaning One – having power to compel or constrain.. The word ‘obviously’ is not one which even appears in the Bible. The first known use of the word ‘obvious’ occurred in 1603…confusing? fuck, yeah!

So what are they doing to the message of the Living Christ which was put in text for good reason? We do not know. It is subversive and changes the way today’s so-called christians look at the scripture. A true Christian would protect the Word of God…what would YOU do?

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Michael Hendrick Walks Into A Bar With A Duck Under His Arm…

Michael (24)

Dateline Ellensburg, WA

Gentle Readers,

We are now back in full blog stride but we have a situation. One of the staff, Michael Hendrick, insists on using his full name and refuses the editorial ‘we’ or the ‘royal we,’ as Jeff Bridges refers to it in The Big Lebowski..

Only he knows why…he says he makes a better character than he does as writer…we will bear with him and allow this capricious act while always bearing in mind that he is a unpredictable and given to wacky antics. He claims to have met the embodiment of the spirit of Jan Kerouac. She lives in a bird that haunts the street in front of the house where she used to live in Ellensburg, Washington. Hendrick found her there by accident after having sworn off the ‘beat scene’ but, like Michael Corleone or Silvio Dante, he says, ‘everytime I try to get out, they pull me back in.’

Here is a photo of Jan Kerouac and the famous father who abandoned her after blood tests proved she was his daughter. kero Jack Kerouac, a hero to many, often did heartless things. Fans like to remember the virile young writer but tend to get pissed off at the honest facts that he was a drunken lout who was chronically thrown in jail for public urination, intoxication and fighting (although his style of fighting seemed to involve mouthing-off drunkenly and being beaten as a result). Jack lived with his mother since he could not take care of himself as a drunk. Jan took care of herself here in Ellensburg by doing all sorts of menial tasks. Here she is washing dishes at The Cafe on Third Avenue, which is still here. As you see, she could be a happy soul at times…Jan Kerouac Working as a Dishwasher

So Michael Hendrick claims to have somehow communed with her spirit in the form of a bird…he may be in the third person now but he still sounds just as crazy!!!!

Stay tuned to find out more….600full-jan-kerouac

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Somebody Blew Up America

THIS IS A FREE BLOG! DO NOT PAY FOR IT!!! TEACHERS ~ IF YOU WANT COPIES, WE WILL SEND THEM FREE BY REQUEST!

Amiri Baraka is Beat.
He walked away from the scene in Greenwich Village, where he edited literary journals Yugen, Kulchur, and The Floating Bear from 1958-65. Working with Hettie Cohen, Michael John Fles, and Diane Di Prima, respectively, the journals brought new works by new names. Featured writers included Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Phillip Whalen, and Michael McClure. He co-founded Totem Press and was influential in the launching of Corinth Books. Yugen magazine was perhaps most significant as the platform for the “new” Beat writers, allowing their work to find a place in one of the first venues to give credulity to the movement.
A wise and controversially outspoken man, his views have kept him on the Outside, the Beat side. The U.S. Air Force discharged him after two years of service due to his belief in communism. In 1961 he was arrested for distributing obscenity after mailing copies of The Floating Bear, Issue Nine, to subscribers; and his presence at the 1967 riots in Newark, New Jersey, saw him arrested and severely beaten by police. It was also the year he changed his name from LeRoi Jones to Amiri Baraka. The charges against him were eventually dropped and much of his support came from the Beat community.
From Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, his first book of poems in 1961, to his upcoming play, The Most Dangerous Man in America, he has stayed the course, worked and fought for his beliefs of an equitable society.
With the death of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., (who visited Baraka’s Newark home a week before his murder), he left the mostly-white Bohemian literary scene and the environs of the East Village to take up a more radical stance towards Black Nationalism. But despite his distancing himself from the Beats in the mid-sixties, Baraka read poetry and attended panel discussions at Beat-haven Naropa Institute through the 1980-90s, and remained friends with Ginsberg until Allen’s death in 1997.
More recently his poem, “Somebody Blew Up America,” brought an end to his New Jersey “Poet Laureate” post when Governor Jim McGreevey took umbrage to the poem’s questioning of the events surrounding the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Centers. The “Who?’ of the exploding owl in the poem echoes the angst of Ginsberg’s voice in “Howl.” Having heard Ginsberg recite live from ten feet away, this writer finds both poems equally as exciting and important.
Baraka has been called “the triple-threat Beat.” His talent has brought him recognition and awards not just in poetry and prose but also in theater as an Obie Award winning playwright. A sampling of awards bestowed upon him include the PEN Open Book Award, the Langston Hughes Award, the Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, and National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation fellowships. Maybe one of the most bittersweet titles placed on him is that of the Poet Laureate of Newark Public Schools, which he received after Gov. McGreevey’s actions against him
Additionally, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and regarded as a respected academic, having taught at the state universities of New York at Stony Brook and Buffalo, Columbia University, and other institutions. barakaimagec

We started by asking why he walked away from the Beat Movement, which gave him a vehicle to establish himself as writer/thinker/activist to a wider audience.
~
Well, that whole thing [the Beat Movement], was very explosive, but remember that the whole Civil Rights Movement was intensifying. I got out of the service in 1957. The Montgomery bus boycott had gone on a couple years before. After they had successfully made them integrate those buses, they blew up Doctor King’s house. At that point, it really began to be clear this was the kind of struggle that was going on particularly in the south, at least for me, having been in the service for two years.
That was the point that it became clear… until they blew up King’s house and he says… you know, the black people showed up at his house with their rifles and said, “What should we do, what should we do, Doctor King?” and he said, “If any blood be shed, let it be ours.” So my whole generation reacted negatively to that and said, “No, it won’t be like that. If people are going to be shooting, they are going to be shooting back and forth.”
Malcolm X appeared at that scene with his whole idea about, you know, “You treat people like they treat you. They treat you with respect, you treat them with respect. They put their hands on you, send them to the cemetery.”
So a whole generation of black youth responded to that positively as a sign that Doctor King was indeed a normal man instead of some kind of a saintly non-violent kind of perseverant. During that period, the next years of 1958-1960… In 1959, Fidel Castro led that revolution in Cuba so I went down there the next year, 1960, to Cuba and met Fidel, Ché Guevara, and all those people. I also met the black activist from North Carolina, Robert Williams, who was in exile in Cuba because he had really been practicing a kind of a self-defense in North Carolina, a thing that actually ended up with him stopping the [Ku Klux] Klan – removing their hoods… and then he found out it was the State Police! Then they framed him for kidnapping a white couple and he went to Cuba to escape that kind of injustice, so I met him.
Anyway, that was the point – 1960 – when, while I had this kind of awareness of the Civil Rights Movement, I actually became much more directly involved in it. So, about 1965, when Malcolm X was murdered, I felt the best thing to do would be to get out of the Village and move to Harlem. I found that, for a lot of black people, that event made us take stock of ourselves and move out of Greenwich Village into Harlem. That was actually the point. I began the Black Arts Repertory Theater Company in 1965 at 130th Street and Lenox Avenue.

Who else was involved in the theater?

Larry Neal, poet, and Askia Touré, poet, those were two of the leading figures. Many people came to Harlem who were not already in Harlem, because they were attracted to the Black Arts Repertory School that we opened. We would send out trucks into the neighborhood every day… four trucks, one had graphic arts, the other had poetry, the other had music and the other had drama. We did this every day throughout the summer of 1965 so that created a kind of militant venue for Black Arts. They found that was desirable rather than having to submit to the continued racism of Greenwich Village.

The perception is that the Village was not so racist.

At that particular point, a lot of young black people felt it was better to move to Harlem to take an active kind of fighting stance against it, rather than to be isolated in Greenwich Village.

Taking action was better than writing about it or publishing work about it?

Right, absolutely… it was not only about the publishing; it was about actually being an activist in that community and on the street and actually making Black Arts relevant to the movement rather than simply commenting on it.

Do you feel that we are losing ground and giving back too much of what was gained then?

Absolutely! It is like one step forward, two steps back. The whole Obama campaign, the victory… on one hand has brought a kind of very sharp reaction. It is like after the Civil War – once the slaves were so-called “emancipated,” that’s when you get the Ku Klux Klan and the black “codes” and all of that strict re-segregation. Rather than ending slavery you got the whole segregation of the south and the whole dividing of the south into black and white even though they were theoretically free from slavery… but slaves were plunged into sharecropping and many times they couldn’t go anywhere. The white people in the south wouldn’t let them go until years after slavery was over. They started going north and west. You can read about that in a book called The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. She charts that whole immigration out of the south by my people.

Amiri BarakaThe Obama Administration… since the first election, racism feels more prevalent.

It’s a stirring reaction to that election. Now we have the Tea Party. The Tea Party is correspondent to the Klan. They appear… the whole takeover of the Congress and the House of Representatives certainly existed because of these kinds of racist incidents – whether Trayvon Martin in the South [Martin was shot in February 2012] or shooting Amadou Diallo in the Bronx [police in February 1999] or the various kinds of murders out in California. It’s a sharp reaction and it shows the reaction is not just against black people but even young white people, like those taken up with the whole Occupy Movement across the country. There is just widespread dissatisfaction in society as it is.

How do you feel about the Occupy Movement?

I think it’s a good idea. It is uncertain and uneven but still a good idea and many times there are too many people completely lacking in the experience, in social struggle, or just anarchism, walking around who believe in no kind of government and no kind of organized response but certainly who are opposed to blacks in politics and it is a very ragged kind of result that comes out of that – but still the idea is a good idea and whatever kind of result you can get from that, even though it’s going to be much less than it would be if it were organized, you still have to support it.
Part of the reason is that it’s like the Sisyphus Syndrome. The only thing that’s happening now is that, between the Republican force pushing to the right, to restore the kind of Republican rule to go to back to Bush, which had been more extreme – what is underneath this is an attempt to erect a kind of corporate dictatorship. Coming out of all these Republicans’ mouths, especially the Tea Party, is the whole question that government is too big, that government is the enemy. The enemy is the lack of development. The fact that poverty still poxes this country and the development is, so far, uneven without a gap between the little six-tenths of one percent of the wealthy and the rest of the people. This has grown bigger and, actually, since Roosevelt and the New Deal we were talking about closing that gap. We talked about creating a much more equitable society. Now even the middle class is feeling the kind of strains that the working class is feeling. So the only thing the republicans have done…I mean, look at the surplus that Clinton had, billions of dollars in surplus, George Bush got rid of it…in the couple of terms that Bush had, he got rid of it a couple of times. He got rid of it.
How? The war, certainly… 9/11 was, to me, just a door opening to exploit the Middle East.

Like the 2.9 trillion dollars that Rumsfeld announced was missing on the day before 9/11? He claimed they didn’t know what they did with it…

Right! They didn’t know what they did with it… the people who got it know what they did with it… (laughs).

Can any government be righteous?

I’m a communist. I’m a Marxist. I believe that, ultimately, people will become sophisticated enough to understand that they themselves must rule – not just some little, small elitist group of exploiters. That is what the struggle is for – to see if this society itself becomes equitable. It is going to be hard because we are going to have to go through this period of intensified corporate domination, this last ditch struggle and the fact that it is now a global economy. You see that the struggles on Wall Street have affected the whole world and the only way that they feel they can gain any kind of superiority is war. That’s when they can hire more workers. That’s when they can fill their coffers and that’s exactly what they want to do… war… and that’s the only way capitalism can remain balanced on two feet, so to speak, but it will never be secure. That’s the problem that the people of the world face, that they have to finally overthrow these governments. They have to overthrow the monopoly of capitalism. That’s the task that faces humanity if it is ever to be truly civilized. You can’t be civilized with capitalism. It is too elitist. Most people are up against it. Most people cannot ever get a real education. Most of us still live in slums. It is something that is destined to be destroyed that will be very difficult to destroy it in its last days.

Speaking of last days, what do you think of the FEMA camps and the things like the Georgia law that is in Congress to bring back the guillotine?Baraka book cover

Are you serious about the guillotine?

Yes, it is a bill in legislature. They say they are running out of the drug to kill people with. You also have the Social Security Administration buying thousands of rounds of ammunition lately and you have to wonder what they need that for.

That’s the penalty for moving towards a corporate dictatorship because these people, the republicans and the Tea Party and these people, they’re not talking about the government. They’re talking about the government. They are talking about straight-out rule by the rich. It may be a terrifying scenario but that is what is in the works unless the people can find the wherewithal, the understanding, and the organization to resist it.
Even in its ragged state, I would rather have the Occupiers than nothing at all. The problem is that, too often, the people in power are opposed to the Occupiers. That’s the problem, most of the people who are in these posts, these small bureaucratic posts, they are even acting against their own interests, not to mention the police and those who are charged with keeping the order – an order that does not even serve them! It’s a tragic situation. But I don’t know what Social Security would be doing with all those guns. I don’t know that.

“Somebody Blew Up America.” You were censored by the New Jersey governor for publishing and performing this poem. The media depicts others who have questioned the events of 9/11 as crazy.

I understand it, yeah. That’s it. You got it. All you have to do is open your mouth, like they say you’ve got freedom of speech – as long as you don’t say anything. The minute you open your mouth, then that’s the end of that. Then they attack you. It has certainly happened to me. It happens to all kinds of people… even somebody like Bruce Springsteen, when he first sang that song about “fighting the yellow man for the white man.” They silenced him for a few years but he managed to come back. It’s that way, if you talk to say anything. There is a long history of that, particularly (for) Afro-Americans, but everybody else, too.
Like that attack on the film industry in the fifties, to remove any taint of the Left from the film industry, the blacklisting of the whole film industry. The whole McCarthyism thing and the fact that, during World War Two, the United States’ closest allies were Russia and China, but after World War Two our closest allies were suddenly the same people we were fighting, Germany and Japan… figure that out! Then China and Russia became our worst enemies. Why is that? It’s because they wanted to cut loose any kind of sign of supporting socialism. Since China and Russia were socialist countries our struggle with these socialist countries, then, was to make sure they were opposed to that (socialism). Finally, Russia succumbed and China has been riddled with imperialist advance. Finally, this corporate America is what dominates and wants to make sure that monopoly capitalism and imperialism outlast anything.

Why do you think people do not pay more attention to this?

The people who could make the most noise about it are afraid they are going to lose their whatever, their positions, afraid they are going to lose what they have. The problem with the great majority of people is that they are not organized and sometimes they don’t have the facts so they don’t know what is going on. It happens too often, even if you elect good people… like in Newark back in 1970, the first black mayor, the second black mayor. We haven’t had a white mayor in Newark since 1970… but then we get somebody like Cory Booker, the present mayor, who actually is sent here by corporate ventures to turn the whole advance, the drive to some kind of equitable city government, around. Now we are struggling against that. Now we have a situation where the mayor is trying to sell our water to private interests. It’s unbelievable. He is trying to sell the water plus about two thousand acres of land where we have the water.

Water is getting more expensive, like oil.

That’s what they want to do – jack the prices up and so this is an ongoing struggle. The largest corporation in Newark, which is Prudential Insurance, the largest insurance company in the world, they haven’t paid any taxes since 1970. One of their buildings is worth 300 million dollars a year in taxes. They were given a tax abatement in 1970. That was the “white-mail” they put on the new black city government, “Either give us a tax abatement or we are leaving.” That is not supposed to be eternal. I mean, you could give them a thirty-year abatement and it still would be over by 2000. We still have twelve years of twelve times 300 million dollars a year, we wouldn’t have a deficit… but they refuse to pay their taxes. They built an arena. They have the NCAA [basketball]; they have the Devils hockey team, which is an interesting idea for Newark. When they have all kinds of big events, they say we owe them money. They utilize our water. They utilize our police for security. We have to pay the police overtime any time they have an event and they say owe money.

Funny how all the venues are named after financial institutions these days, as opposed to names of great people.

That’s right. That’s just an indication of where everything is going. Everything is named after a bank or some other kind of corporation… even baseball stadiums. That’s absurd. Here everything is named after Prudential. (laughs)

Which medium do you find most useful in reaching people and motivating them?

The problem, again, is the control by the organizations. In the sixties, for instance, the whole emergence of abstraction and the corporations first fought against abstraction. That is the problem with the arts… it is like “freedom of the press”. You can have freedom of the press if you own a press otherwise you have to deal with a mimeograph machines and small distribution. That’s the way it is with all of the arts. That is the theater of grants. Somebody has to bestow that support upon the artist. Unless you really qualify, philosophically, to be in those venues, you are not going to be there.
I produced a play back in the sixties when I was perhaps unclear what I wanted to say, though they could deal with that to a limited degree. Back then it made it very, very difficult for me to get anything onstage. I have a play coming out in the spring about [W.E.B.] Dubois, called The Most Dangerous Man in America. That’s what the FBI called him. It’ll be a month run at a small theater on the Lower East Side.

You are accomplished and awarded in so many art forms… if you were to be remembered by one piece of work, what would you choose it to be?

I think the book on black music, Blues People, that I wrote… people still quote that and cite that. I think that is the most important one. People came out in 1963 and is the book of mine that is the most constantly-referenced. I think it was the most popular. I have had other works which had a great deal of (laughs) in the United States.
It’s about African-American music from Africa and how it developed in the United States. The seeds of that book came to me in a class I had with a man named Sterling Brown, a great poet who was my English teacher at Howard University. A friend of mine named A.B. Spellman who is also in the book, and who wrote a book called Four Lives in the Bebop Business, we had both finished class and he invited us to his house because we had some pretensions of knowing about the music. Once we were there, he showed us. He had this library with music, by genre, chronologically, by artist, and he told me, “That’s your history.”
In that kind of capsule statement what he was saying was that if you analyze the music, if you follow the music, you’ll also find out about the peoples’ history. So that’s what I did – tried to show how when the music changed it signified change in the status of the people and their condition. Everything about their lives has undergone some important change and the music is a result of the affect of the change. It goes to the earliest kind of music – the slave song, the early blues, the city blues, you know, the kinds of variations on that… like coming into the north and how it affected the music. It covers up to the 1960s.

You collaborated with The Roots about ten years ago… in hip-hop. Who are the most important artists or have been?

It changed a great deal from the early hip-hop of the 1970s, which was just a field called “rap.” Hip-hop is actually a kind of a category that includes different aspects of it all… the DJ, the rapping, graffiti, break dance. Rap, particularly, changed a great deal from the 1970s. The early rappers were much more conscious of making a social statement of protesting the kind of conditions they lived in and that black people lived in. It was really a kind of urban journal type thing, like Afrika Bambaataa from the South Bronx. Then, later on, people like Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
RunDMC was a period of development of that was put together by the guy (named) Russell Simmons, who then became rap’s biggest entrepreneur.

Do you think people like Russell Simmons can be as well-accepted and still keep an edge?

People have to sort that out themselves and find out how those kinds of ties (either) support what they are doing or obstruct it. They might just change what they are doing or what they thought and come out with something that may not be as important as what they were doing before. It depends on how you deal with relationships with those institutions and organizations.

Can you tell more about your new play?

The play is about W.E.B. DuBois, when he was about 83 years old and was taking a very activist position against nuclear weapons and everything, including going to conferences in Europe to protest nuclear weapons. He was indicted as an “agent of foreign power,” being a “father” of books. He had just run for political office, he and a man named Vito Marcantonio, a lawyer who was really the last Italian communist in the U.S. Congress. Anyway, when DuBois was indicted because he was in a peace organization [he was chairman of the Peace Information Center, formed in 1950], they had the trial in Washington, DC, and Marcantonio defended him. He was the lawyer.
It was a drawn out trial but finally he won the case because it turned out that the chief witness against him was, in fact, the man who had invited DuBois to join the peace organization. So the thing was overthrown but DuBois was prescient enough to understand it. that he said, “Now the little children will no longer see my name.”
After that they took his passport and tried to keep him from traveling. Then in 1958, the Supreme Court overthrew that ruling and gave him back is passport so he was able to travel throughout the world… Europe, Russia, China. He had been invited to edit Encyclopedia Africana by Kwame Nkruman, who was the newly-elected Prime Minster of Ghana. He went there, declared his membership in the Communist Party and he died in Ghana on the day before the March on Washington, which was started by Reverend Martin Luther King, so it’s a real cycle.

That covers a lot of territory.

It is going to be mainly the drama of just before the indictment… and how they prepared for this trial. The main part of the play is the trial itself, and the rest focuses on his travels around the world, particularly Russia, China, and Ghana. That should be out in spring of next year.

Did you have a personal relationship with Malcolm X?

I met Malcolm one time, after he had his house in Long Island firebombed and he was moving around Manhattan. I saw him, actually, with a man named Mohamed Babu at the Waldorf Astoria, where Babu had a room. We met into the wee hours of the morning. That was the only time I actually talked to Malcolm.

You and Lenny Bruce were often mentioned in the same news stories and seem to have been crucified at the same time.

I didn’t know him. Like I said if you speak out and identify with any kind of activism you are going to get jumped. That’s it – and you can’t expect any other thing to happen.

Did you like his act? Were his racial routines funny to a black person?

Sure, at the time. What was relevant is that he was trying to be for real, to bring some reality to America and make a commentary on America and that was the point. Given the content, he was attacked for profanity and obscenity and all those things.
At that time, I was arrested for sending obscenity through the mail [for] publishing The Floating Bear. In one of them I had a play of mine in there or a short story… whatever, and an essay by William Burroughs. [The material deemed obscene consisted of “The Eighth Ditch” an excerpt from his novel, From the System of Dante’s Hell, and the Burroughs’ poem, “Roosevelt after Inauguration”].
This stuff that happened to Lenny Bruce was common, given that situation, because that is when that whole attack was common when you tried to do that – you were met with some kind of withering charges. I defended myself in court by reading the decision on [James] Joyce’s Ulysses and certainly that won the decision for me… (laughs).

~
The 1934 Supreme Court decision to lift the ban on Ulysses opened the doors for the publishing of many literary works besides those published by Baraka. Joyce’s book was used in the defense of novels Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Tropic of Cancer. The works of Amiri Baraka have, similarly, pushed open doors for new generations of creative minds to pass through.
Mr. Baraka was open and generous with his time. He still reads poetry in performance and we encourage you to see him if you ever have a chance. If you want Beat, he is more real than all the recent movies about the “usual suspects.” He is a living literary treasure and his work should be celebrated by all freedom-loving Americans and World Citizens.
Watch for his new play, The Most Dangerous Man in America, in spring and pick up a few of his books while you are waiting. He is the real deal and he speaks more sense than any other public figure that comes to mind.

Salute him and enjoy his work

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Free Book by Michael Hendrick, “Last Notes From a Tumbleweed Bastard: East to West” – Crazed Author Gives It Away!!!

widmark

Literate Readers,

Our excuse for being away this time is that we have been busy…as usual for the past year or so…

To keep it to the short blog form, we are pleased to announce that a member of our LNTB blog staff is releasing his first of three books in October just before Samhain.  It shall be printed by the Sheradin Press, prestigious publisher of the Paris Review, Cornell University Press and many other upscale publications.

Last Notes From a Tumbleweed Bastard: East to West by Michael Hendrick will be released in Ebook format but a number of hard copies of the journal-sized book will be free for the asking…depending on who asks, and how nicely! If you would like a copy, you can send a request here.

If you want to send Mr. Hendrick a couple bucks for postage, we are sure he will appreciate it.

The volume is a mix of flash fiction and poetry. Half was written along the Eastern Seaboard of the USA and the other half, entirely in the State of Washington during the past year, Hendrick’s first year there. There will be more to come. We asked about the subject and the author was characteristically obstreperous.

“What’s in it?” he laughed, wiping cider from his chin, “I’ll tell you what’s in it. I paid a buck a book for the fucking saddle stitch binding, damn it! I hope they appreciate it when their ‘print on demand’ books start coming unglued in ten years, the ungrateful bastards!…and for free, what in fuck am I thinking? Hell, it’s easier for them to let you push them downstairs in a wheelchair than it is to get them to read a book. Maybe if it’s free, they will read it!”

Don’t be put off by the churlish reply since he does refer to himself as a ‘bastard,’ too…but he has a point, which is that we all need to encourage reading more in ourselves and others. How can you know what is really going on if you do not read?

If you want a copy, get your name in. We will have an email address as well as snail mail address for you to send your requests.

We hope you take advantage of this offer…and do tell your local librarian!!!

liberrian

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Brother-Souls: John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac, and the Beat Generation

Gentle Readers,

This is a free blog. Do not pay for it elsewhere…

We recently passed a watershed moment in modern American literature, as November, 2012, marked sixty years since John Clellon Holmes introduced the term “Beat Generation” in the New York Times Magazine.
To many, this is the sum of all Holmes is known for.
His seminal Beat novel Go, also published sixty years ago (five years ahead of Jack Kerouac‘s On the Road), still remains in the shadow of Kerouac’s first book about those times. As evidenced by one of the most popular social networking websites, the cult of celebrity embraces Kerouac. The various tribute pages devoted to Kerouac see traffic from over a quarter of a million people, while the single page dedicated to Holmes draws slightly more than three hundred followers.
Even people who knew him personally seem oblivious to the facts of his life.
In our last issue, Al Hinkle – who is portrayed as a character in both books – noted that Holmes’ version of the period “is probably the more accurate.” However, Hinkle goes on to speak of Holmes’ first wife, “Marian was the love of John’s life – he never remarried.” The fact is that after divorcing Marian, Holmes married Shirley Radulovich in September, 1953, and the couple remained together until 1988, dying within weeks of each other. Both were victims of cancers attributed to their heavy use of tobacco. These facts are found in the richly informative book Brother-Souls: John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation by Ann Charters and Samuel Charters, published in 2010 by the University Press of Mississippi.
Brother-Souls gives us a painstakingly accurate account of the intertwined lives of the two men. In so doing, it also unveils a myriad of previously-unknown facts about peripheral personalities like Hinkle, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Herbert Huncke, Gregory Corso, and many others.
If not for the frequently-noted dates and fastidious footnotes, this work of non-fiction would read like a novel – a novel deserving space on the same shelf between Go and On the Road. While On the Road has its hero in the central figure of Cassady as Dean Moriarty, Go looks at the same period with its focus on Ginsberg as David Stofsky. It is at Ginsberg’s party at his apartment in Spanish Harlem where he, Holmes, and Kerouac initially met in July 1948.
Also in our last issue, Ann Charters mentioned that she and husband Samuel worked on Brother-Souls to “redress that wrong” done to Holmes by Kerouac, when he portrayed the former as “a wimpy rival.” She told us that “It was a difficult book to write but one of its pleasures was the opportunity to give back Holmes his voice as a writer who was an enormous influence on Kerouac.”
It can be argued that the first piece of what would become known as Beat Literature appeared in early 1948 when Holmes published his jazz/slang-infused short story, “Tea for Two,” in Jay Landesman’s magazine, Neurotica. The little magazine founded by St. Louis, Missouri, native Landesman, Neurotica became, in style and spirit, the first Beat-themed literary journal even before the term “Beat” was coined.
A few months earlier, at age twenty-two, he broke into the publishing world with a book review printed in the March, 1948, issue of Poetry magazine. The following year, he sent the first chapters of his novel to Landesman. about the colorful characters in burgeoning Bohemian scene, which flourished around him in New York’s Greenwich Village.
At roughly the same time, he heard stories about another young writer he referred to as “Karawak” in his journal, who had written a novel, The Town and The City. As yet unpublished, the only copy was the fat manuscript typed by Kerouac, which was being passed around and talked about in the literary circles of New York City’s young intellectuals, to which Holmes was privy. Both men met at the party and, after sizing each other up in their perspective journals, soon became fast friends and confidants.
Before reaching this point in the book, the Charters’ not only detail the childhoods of both men but trace their family trees, as well – on one side back to the 1736 death of Maurice-Louis Alexandre Le Bris de Kerouack, and on the other back to 1594, when George Holmes was born in England. Interestingly, Holmes’ family tree included not only one-time presidential candidate John McClellan Holmes, Sr., the celebrated Union general of the Civil War, and the renowned essayist and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, but also a male ancestor who married a woman from the family in which Ralph Waldo Emerson was born.
Ironies and similarities such as their same birthdate of March 12, (Kerouac was five years older) are recounted, as are vivid shared memories of the Flood of 1936, which Kerouac witnessed from the banks of the Merrimack River in Lowell, Massachusetts. Eighty miles upstream, Holmes watched from the side of the Pemagawassett River, in Plymouth, New Hampshire, as it rose and flowed into the Merrimack, carrying the same waters and debris which neither of them would ever forget.
One early question left open is why they both decided to become writers. The closest thing to an answer may be the “On Spontaneous Prose” section of The Portable Jack Kerouac, edited by Ann Charters and published by Viking Penguin in 1995. Significantly, in that volume, she conceived the idea of tracing Kerouac’s life through a collection of his writings. When she mentioned the project to Holmes, he told her that he had the same idea in 1965. Not long before his death, Holmes suggested that he and Charters collaborate on it but as his health deteriorated, he passed it back to her with his blessings and an offer of help if she needed it.
In Brother-Souls, we have two scribes writing about two other writers. This unique circumstance makes for more than just a diligent study of two convergent writers; it gives insight into their individual writing processes and an insider’s look at the business of writing and publishing in America at that time.
Aside from the usual suspects, we meet Landesman and Gershon Legman. Legman would become editor of Neurotica and his influence on Holmes is noted. Ginsberg had his first “professional” poem published in the sixth issue of Neurotica in 1950. A collaboration written with Kerouac, who took no credit, “Song: Fie My Fum” was met with derision by Legman, who voiced his first impression of the poem by asking, “Did it take two of them to write that piece of shit?” Ginsberg rankled at the fact that Landesman required him to get down on his knees before accepting one of his poems. The poem was four stanzas culled from the poem “Pull My Daisy,” to which some accounts credit shared authorship to Cassady, as well.
Carl Solomon, recently released from New York State Psychiatric Institute where he met Ginsberg, had rented an apartment, and as suggested by former institute-roomie Ginsberg, threw a New Year’s party to usher in 1950. Landesman showed up with Holmes and was initially attracted by Solomon’s “certifiable” state of insanity and his experience with electroshock treatments but, when approached, Solomon steered him towards Ginsberg and Kerouac as being better choices for writers. Just before this scene, we are treated to a look at the meeting of Ginsberg and Solomon, for whom “Howl” was dedicated.
The Charters’ follow Ginsberg to his meeting with William Carlos Williams who advises him to, drop rhyming metric poetry, in favor of the “variable breath-stop length for metric measurement” as well as looking to his own experiences for the subject matter in his poems.
We see Holmes quickly establish himself as an “accepted” poet by 1950, with submissions published in Partisan Review and Harper’s magazines. However, in order to satisfy himself as being a real writer, he felt the novel was the form that he needed to master. To this end, he kept copious journals of the events of his life and of those around him. These were the source material for the chapters of Go which he sent to Landesman in 1949. Always generous with his friends, Holmes tried to help Ginsberg by sending his poems to his editor at Partisan Review. He also spent his time offering encouragement to Kerouac, who was also trying to find his voice in his “road novel” while trying to find a publisher for The Town and the City. During 1950-51, while Holmes wrote Go, Kerouac visited his apartment daily, to drink, talk, and – most importantly – read the novel page by page as it issued from Holmes’ typewriter. It is very likely, On the Road, given these circumstances, may never have found a form were it not for the encouragement and example given by the younger Holmes.
While this review/essay is not written to “kneecap” Kerouac, we have to wonder if (after all the ballyhoo, Gap adverts, Facebook pages, and movie treatments) the progression and continued adulation of the Beat Generation as we know it would even have been possible without Holmes. While Ginsberg is typically seen as the gadfly of the collected group of writers, throwing parties and initiating meetings, it was Holmes who opened the doors to Neurotica for them. Any writer knows the magnitude of the importance of publishing their first piece of work outside of school, and in a professional publication. Few things are more encouraging than seeing your own name in print for the first time.
To a group of writers who unashamedly pushed the limits of sanity, to whom mental instability actually became a badge of honor, the steep precipice of self-doubt reached by the constant rejection of one’s work could be the hardest hurdle to clear. By coincidentally meeting Landesman, Legman, Kerouac, and Ginsberg all in that same July weekend, could Holmes have been the spark that was necessary to set off the Beat firecracker? Perhaps the truest irony of his depiction as “wimpy” is that he is the most obvious catalyst which brought them all exposure.
Neal Cassady is most often seen as the touchstone at the center of the group, although it has been said that they all would have followed Burroughs anywhere he went. The more we unravel Cassady, the less grand of a person he becomes. Holmes mentions the black and blue marks left by Cassady, on LuAnne Henderson. His capacity for mental cruelty and abandoning wives and friends at crucial times most likely stems from his own abandonment by his father in Denver, Colorado. Holmes stayed steady in his support of Kerouac’s work, even as the latter heralded Cassady as the superior writer in the group and referred to him in a letter as his “only true friend.” Cassady responded in kind, in his usual manner, by abandoning him in Mexico City, sick with fever and dysentery.
In his moodiness, Kerouac’s misanthropy also got the best of him. Shouting matches between he and Holmes kept to an intellectual level. In barrooms, he was severely beaten more than once, thanks to his mouth and temper but especially as his alcoholic deterioration worsened. Holmes became hesitant to tell him about advances he got from publishers, for fear of setting him off. One point that Kerouac dwelt on during his struggles with On the Road was that Holmes “had no right to write a book about everyone’s private lives.” Both men were doing the same thing, writing about the same people and situations from different angles. Reading Go as it was written page by page kept him from duplicating scenes already covered by Holmes – but working around another serious writer could be enervating for anyone.
In all fairness to Kerouac, artists who show genius, often do so to express what they cannot in normal life and interpersonal relationships. As artists, writers may plumb themselves to reach those recesses and depths of feeling which are too painful or impossible to relate in any other way. In his essay “Are Writers Born or Made?” he distinguished between talent and genius, observing that many may show “talent” but genius is the rarity. “Geniuses can be scintillating and geniuses can be somber,” he noted, “but it’s that inescapable sorrowful depth that shines through – originality.”
While we appreciate the work they leave behind, the inner torment they endure is not a pretty thing – consider Van Gogh disfiguring himself, Rimbaud cultivating head lice “to throw on passing clergymen,” or Artaud’s claim to having been “suicided by society.” Holmes may have sealed his own fate by being too well-mannered. After all, we learn that Holmes was the only one of Kerouac’s friends that his mother Memère did not dislike.
Nonetheless, about three weeks after Holmes finished the last pages of Go, Kerouac became inspired by a letter from Cassady which turned into a rabid series of letters between them. The excitement of these exchanges prompted him to pull all of his notes together and unleash the torrent within upon the now-famous scroll he fed through his typewriter. It seems safe to say that while Cassady sparked him to action, Holmes laid the foundation during those daily visits. The resulting three-week period of speed, coffee, and typing which resulted in On the Road has since snowballed into an oft-told tale, but Brother-Souls reminds the reader that this was not all spontaneous prose. Kerouac’s fastidious habit of keeping notebooks provided for a vast amount of his material.
Between the five years, from the writing to its publication in 1957, the details and struggles of both men’s lives and work come to life in print. Meanwhile, other key events fall into place: Ginsberg meets his life-long companion, Peter Orlovsky; there is the first reading of Ginsberg’s poem “Howl for Carl Solomon” at 6 Gallery; Kerouac writes and details the remaining six books of the “Legend of Duluoz” along with three other volumes; the first complete reading of “Howl” takes place (and is attended by Samuel Charters); and the Beat Movement goes mainstream. While most of the key players became victims of the fame, Ginsberg used it to his advantage.
When City Lights got charged with obscenity for distributing Howl and Other Poems, more fuel was added to the fire – especially when presiding Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled it to be not obscene. Curiously, Ginsberg slighted Holmes with the omission of his name from the dedication page. Kerouac, Burroughs, and Cassady got a nod from the poet, placing them forever in the highest order of Beats. Holmes had gone out of his way to get Ginsberg published, sending his work to New Directions after his editor at Partisan Review passed on it, as well as paying the grand compliment of making him the central character in Go. The depiction of Ginsberg in the book posits a good theory as to why he was snubbed. Kerouac had called Holmes “savage” in his treatment of the people he wrote about. Ginsberg for his part, had been disappointed in the account of his Blakean vision but, at the same time admitted to the veracity of the portrayal of himself.
“You really haven’t caught the way it felt,” he told Holmes, “but you’ve caught something else. You’ve caught the solemn funny little kid I guess I must have been in those days.” It seems that no amount of speculation will ever get to the heart of it but the glaring fact of Holmes’ exclusion from the dedication and the hurtfulness of the action cannot be overlooked. The Charters’ attribute some of it to Holmes distancing himself by leaving New York to live in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, but Cassady and Burroughs were both much further removed geographically.
Six months after the appearance of On the Road, Kerouac published The Subterraneans (to be followed in another six months by The Dharma Bums), heightening his fame but not his luck. With money in his pocket for a change, he traveled out of the United States. As usual, he quickly returned to New York to stay close to his mother. One night, while trying to reach the proper degree of stupor in a local bar, he sustained a broken nose and arm from a beating by a homosexual professional boxer, who claimed he had slurred an insult at him. Later, the depiction of Cassady as pothead led to his arrest and imprisonment.
The whole Beat scene, which thrived in the underground, exploded across the media in 1958, meeting curiosity, admiration, and derision. The term “Beatnik” popped up – a poke in the eye, as it was spawned from the name “Sputnik,” the space craft launched by Russia. Nothing linked to Russia could be good in those days. To word irked both men, as they saw it as a symbol of the manipulation, commercialization, and degradation of their once-pure vision. Every critic, pundit, journalist, and magazine writer had something to say about the phenomenon, ranging from suspicions of dangerous revolutions and proliferation of juvenile delinquents to dismissals of idle young hipsters with nothing important to do in life. Holmes had left the United States with Shirley on December 12, 1957, to realize his dream of traveling in Europe for two months, funded by an advance he received for his “jazz” book, The Horn.
While working on Perfect Fools, his follow-up novel to Go, he published a short story which would become The Horn‘s first chapter in the August, 1953, issue of Discovery magazine. The second chapter appeared in Nugget, in October 1956. With the rejection Perfect Fools by Scribners’, his spirits sank. He put his energy into writing the “jazz novel,” writing the remainder between spring, 1956, and fall of 1957. Although relations between he and Kerouac were deteriorating, Kerouac kept a promise and wrote a letter praising the novel to Hiram Hayden at Random House two months after the release of On the Road.John Holmes 1947
Accepted immediately and published in July 1958, it sported a recommendation from Kerouac on the cover. Despite the ongoing “Beat frenzy,” sales were moderate, likely due to July traditionally being a slow month for sales or perhaps getting lost among the wave of second-rate, imitation Beat-themed books which flooded the market – potboilers written to cash in on the trend. Selling well enough to require a second printing, mainstream reviews failed to reach the depth of it but it was warmly embraced by the cognoscente, including Studs Terkel and Ralph Gleason. Landesman read it on radio in St. Louis for half an hour, showing how taken he was with it.
Perhaps the most ambitious and meticulously-constructed of all the Beat novels, The Horn fascinates, not just by intricacy, but in the marvel of a writer dreaming up such a concept. As for structure, it is the only “true novel” that either he or Kerouac ever produced, not being based on their real-life experiences. In fact, it cannot really be classified as “Beat.” As Holmes wrote, regarding the reviews, “The Beat Generation tag has been either ignored (it having nothing to do with the book), or mentioned only in passing, for which I am grateful.” Even attempting to describe it presents a daunting task, so here we rely on excerpts from Brother-Souls, first with this section from Holmes’ journals…

The real origin of the book…lay in my feeling that the jazz artist was the quintessential American artist – that is, that his work hang-ups, his personal neglect by his country, his continual struggle for money, the debasement of his vision by the mean streets, his oft times descent into drugs, liquor, and self-destructiveness – all this seemed to me to typify the experience of our great 19th Century American writers: Poe’s loneliness, drunkenness and obscurity; Melville’s half-of-life anonymity; Hawthorne’s hermit years; Emily Dickinson’s spinster-bedroom full of immortal poems; Mark Twain’s wastage of so much of his talent on get-rich-quick schemes; Whitman’s decision to stay with the trolley drivers and whores and good old boys from whom his work took so much sustenance. The novel as it evolved, then, was to be about the American-as-artist.

A month earlier, he explained in a letter:

“I was working on three levels at the same time. I wanted each of these characters to represent an American writer, which is the only reason why I put those two little epigraphs in front of each chapter. But I also wanted him to represent a particular kind of jazz musician, and I had to create a fictional character doing these things, so that Edgar Pool, for instance, is Edgar Allen Poe.”

Now we give part of the synopsis by Charters/Charters – but note that these are just mere snatches taken from the in-depth explanation they provide, much of what was missed by many initial reviews.

Holmes structured it:
As a kind of dual narrative, each of the narrative streams illustrating and complementing the other. Each of the major characters was introduced in chapters titled “Chorus,” and the choruses alternated with chapters titled “Riff,” which told the novel’s story…Holmes preceded each Chorus with a quotation from one of the nineteenth-century American writers who had given him the novel’s theme. With the quotations he was suggesting an identification in each chapter between the jazz musician and the individual writer, and he tied the substance of the quotation as closely as he could to the chapter itself…
The quotation for the first Chorus is from Thoreau, and the name of the musician is Walden Blue. “Walden” is an obvious allusion to Thoreau’s Walden and “Blue” as clearly identifies him as a musician…
The second Chorus introduces an alto saxophonist named Eddie Wingfield“Wings” Redburn. The quotation is taken from Melville, whose fourth novel was titled Redburn…
A quotation from Hawthorne introduces the Chorus representing the pianist Junious Priest…the musician who was the model for Junius was the avant-garde jazz pianist Thelonious Monk…
The central woman figure…is a singer named “Geordie Dickson,” who is locked in a despairing, unending relationship with the novel’s main protagonist, the tenor saxophonist Edgar Pool…a combination of singer Billie Holiday and Emily Dickinson…
The name of the trumpeter Curny Finnley is derived from the archetypal figure “Huckelberry Finn,” and the Chorus introducing him opens with a quotation from Finn’s creator, Mark Twain…Curny Finnley…was in part modeled on trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie…
The Chorus introducing the tenor saxophonist Metro Myland opens with a quotation from Walt Whitman…”Myland” is an allusion to Whitman’s personal sense of his Americanism, of the nation as “My land”…Metro, for Holmes, was “just any great big yawping tenor sax player, but he’s also Walt Whitman”…
The final two Choruses portray Pool’s last hours…from the doomed, desperate Edgar Allen Poe. Holmes’ comment on the character of Pool was that his novelistic character was, of course, Lester Young, but also Poe…
As an aid to himself in clarifying the book’s structure, Holmes wrote the Choruses first, which described his principal figures. He then wrote the Riffs sections, creating the narrative around his fictitious characters…

Here, it is significant to note that tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Lester Young inspired Ginsberg’s creation of “Howl” when the poet wrote several verses in a vocal imitation of Young’s chorus-on-chorus jazz progression, the succession of verses building upon each other and raising the rhythmic energy to an ecstatic level. In a 1968 interview with Michael Aldrich, Ginsberg refers to one of the jazz man’s signature songs, “Lester Young was what I was thinking about… ‘Howl’ is all ‘Lester Leaps In.’”
The “jazz book” idea provided fodder for many of the vociferous conversations between Holmes and Kerouac. The recognition of its brilliance only grows with time, as will the brilliance of Brother-Souls.
In 1958, while Kerouac felt his first anxiety over waiting for royalties from the movie version of On the Road (a state of anxiety similarly affected Kerouac fans that waited impatiently until 2012 for its release), Holmes grew increasingly frustrated with the media attention and his realization that the movement they had created ultimately distanced the once close-knit pair. He also bristled at being used as a substitute spokesman for The Beat Generation and the perception of himself as a replacement for Kerouac when the latter could not be found. In spite of this they still kept in touch via letters, proving the true durability of their friendship.
Holmes The HornHolmes would face his own problems later that year, in the bleak state of his finances and the emotional turmoil that engulfed him when his father suffered a heart attack in October, forcing an end to years of estrangement. At their home in Old Saybrook, he and Shirley were just about to run out of firewood as the toughest part of the cruel New England winter fell upon them. Luckily, relief came when friends going on vacation asked them to sit their house.
In early February, Landesman sent a hundred dollars in a letter after hearing about their difficulties. These acts of kindness helped them through the winter, and in May, they were able to return to visit New York when Landesman staged the first and only Beat musical, The Nervous Set, and all performances sold-out. Kerouac showed up at the theater drunk and promptly fell asleep in his seat, vanishing during the intermission. The trip gave them some respite but in July a rush-hour accident on the New Jersey Turnpike put his father back in the hospital in Camden and one of his hands had to be amputated as a result. In the days that followed, a stroke paralyzed half of his father’s body.
Weeks spent keeping vigil at the bedside, trying to help nurse his father back to health led to exhaustion and near the end of August, John McClellan Holmes Sr., after weeks of suffering and staring at the stump of his hand, lost the will to live and passed away.
Although their relationship was frequently antagonistic, the event haunted the junior Holmes (who had taken “Clellon” as a pen-name to allay confusion with the well-known poet, John Holmes) for years. He wrote about the experience in the poem “Too-Late Words for My Father,” which he completed years later, in 1973. Old friend Alan Harrington, novelist and On the Road character, helped him with the hospital expenses. The chronic emotional devastation left him unable to write much outside of his journals and he slipped into one of the most unproductive periods of his life. Days spent drinking and arguing with Shirley exacerbated the situation. An unpaid electric bill for eight dollars forced him to hide upstairs when the electric company worker came to shut off his power in September of 1961 and the following month he was arrested for shoplifting a few dollars worth of groceries at a local market. The local press used the story to lampoon him with an embarrassing, supposedly-funny headline.
At this point something snapped inside him. A lesser man may have acted out against himself but in Holmes’ case, the situation forced him to pull himself together, deal with his creative block and begin writing again. As is often the case, a great man finds his true measure at the worst of times, not the best. It is also worth noting that through it all, Shirley stayed with him, working where she could to support them both. Holmes appears to have been one of the few of his peers to maintain a traditional “’til death do we part” relationship.
His turn back to the positive side spurred an equally positive reaction from magazines he submitted his work to, after braving it through a short period of rejected stories. Around the time he came to terms with the fact that his novels would never bring him as much fame as his poetry and non-fiction, he won Playboy magazine’s Best Non-Fiction award for 1964, with the essay, “Revolution Below the Belt.” This shows how deeply Legman had influenced him with his fixation on all things sexual years earlier.
His sister Liz, also a writer, made the acquaintance of Nelson Algren, author of the groundbreaking novels, A Walk on the Wild Side and The Man with the Golden Arm. During this period of regeneration, she introduced the pair. Once again, he enjoyed the luxury of intellectual stimulation that is peculiar to like-minded writers. For his part, Algren equally valued conversation with a mind sharp enough to write a book like The Horn.
Although he appeared the stronger of the two “brothers,” Kerouac never found his feet once he started balancing them on bottles. The sad facts of his self-immolation fill pages and support a variation on one of Legman’s favorite themes – that violence in modern society results directly from the repression of our sexuality. In his case, the violence turned inward and bespeaks the result of not being able to fully love a woman in a true manner. Sex is more than just a function of the genitalia. It is an outward expression of love and tenderness. He loved his mother, there is no doubting that, but his inability to correlate love and sex (the Cassadian logic of all people being apples and we just need to pick them and eat them as we will) may have been his undoing. This is not something Ann and Samuel Charters broach in the book but this writer’s attempt at explaining his trip from top of the heap to bottom of the glass.
Although we suggest that Holmes sparked the kindling that ignited the Beat fire, it is commonly accepted that Kerouac is responsible for the Beat Movement gaining the momentum to be a worldwide cultural revolution, these sixty years later. He is the primary visual symbol. He is the face of it today, not the angelic hipster Cassady, whose death from exposure in the Mexican night froze “blood on the tracks” after he bridged the generation gap between Beat and Hippie; not even Ginsberg who may have been the most prolific producer of the lot. His radicalism and homosexuality may have been off-putting to a straight society.
Kerouac – the older brother who died as the younger, the televised, the Adonis – he is the symbol who put a face on the new culture at the piano with Steve Allen speaking cool and hip and mellifluous.
The triumph of Holmes’ later years overshadows the misery of those when he was beaten-down Beat, in the truest sense of the word. The world of academia sought him out and he accepted residencies at several fine schools. Never giving up on the novel, he produced two more, Get Home Free in 1964 and Nothing More to Declare in 1967. More books appeared posthumously. He enjoyed the company of his old cronies when Ginsberg brought them together at Naropa Institute, for a celebration of Kerouac’s work on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication, of On the Road in 1982. His dedication to his craft supplied him with purpose and a way to communicate while fighting a recurrent cancer when it robbed his frantic gift of speech.
He survived nineteen years after Kerouac and twenty after Cassady. In March, 1988, he died at age sixty-two, his beloved wife Shirley with him as ever. In death, as in life, she followed him just two weeks later, a common fate of couples who share a true love. Earlier in the year, he learned that three of his novels would soon be reprinted on Thunder Mouth Press. So with his once-greatest fear of vanishing “without leaving some trace,” this surely gave him strength even as mortality fleeted.
To paraphrase Kerouac’s paraphrasing in “Are Writers Born or Made?” – It ain’t whatcha live, it’s the way atcha live it.
This reviewer hopes the reader bears in mind that this piece may seem full of facts but it is only a fraction, less than even a fiftieth, of pages presented in Brother-Souls. In the entire canon of Beat books, it is arguably the single, most comprehensive view of the scene as it unfolded – and absolutely the most authoritative work on Holmes and Kerouac. It is the only book which comes to mind where the footnote pages themselves are a treat to read.
We come away from reading it with the feeling of just completing a course in history, absorbing enough to get an A+ on the subject. If some obvious facts are missing here, it is simply because we chose to focus primarily on Holmes, then Kerouac and the others.
We first became aware of Ann Charters in 1973, when her biography on Kerouac (with Samuel Charters) became widely celebrated and instantly considered as the definitive book on him. While relishing the blues of Lightnin’ Hopkins since the 1970s and growing up with the music of Country Joe and the Fish even earlier on life’s soundtrack, we only recently discovered our ignorance of the fact that Samuel Charters had a hand in delivering these important sounds. A Grammy award winner, he produced five of the six Country Joe LPs. In 1959, with Ann in tow, he found Hopkins in Houston, Texas, and did field recordings of him. These were released on the Folkways label and led to a rediscovery by an appreciative new audience
At last count, eighteen books credit him as author. This is aside from collaborations listed in the thirty-book bibliography of Ann Charters, printed in our last issue. The count does not include Portents, the self-published small-press they ran in the 1960s. In literature and music the couple are a national treasure, both gifted individually and as a team. She is also an accomplished, recorded ragtime pianist. A recently-posted Youtube video (you can find it on http://www.beatdom.com) shows them working together, reading poetry at a Beat event in England earlier this year.
Ann Charters and Samuel Charters did more than write a large part of Brother-Souls, they lived it and witnessed it first-hand.
Buy it! The book, not a blog! All rights reserved by Michael Hendrick.

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On Occupiers, Marijuana Activists and Voting

fatfuckGentle Readers,
We offer our apologia for sticking the ugly mug right at the beginning of this blog but we hope to shake some sense into a couple people, maybe.

We don’t know where the Occupiers are right now but bet they will be back when the presidential elections come into view. That is their first mistake. Why are they waiting to make a statement? Who is their leader? We welcome the answers to any of these questions, seriously.
We should be hearing from them all the time, if they have a real message, right?
Last time around, NYC police allowed them to stay in the parks until after elections and then started macing and beating them. Yesterday, a few people held a silent smoke-in protest at the town hall in Sussex, NJ. New Jersey passed medical marijuana legislation when Governor Jon Corzine signed the bill to make it legal the day before Gov. Chris (Cartman) Christie, took the office. On signing the measure Corzine noted, “I have enormous gratitude to the people of New Jersey for this decade of opportunity to serve.” He left the state with a gift, something the people want, the Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act.
In the Garden State, sixty percent of residents polled recently said they would not mind if a neighbor grew marijuana. The survey, conducted by Quinnipiac University, showed that forty-eight percent of registered voters backed the idea of recreational marijuana use and an equal forty-eight percent would vote against it.
The problem with NJ folks is the same as the problem the Occupiers have. It could be fixed, easily. Put on your thinking caps. In NJ, voters under thirty years old make up only ten percent of those registered. And consider this…nationally, between 1996 and 2012 the non-Hispanic White share of the voting population decreased by over eleven percentage points. This information comes from the US Census. Who do we usually see at protests against the ‘system,’ as it is vaguely referred to? Well, let’s see what kind of people are in this photo…vote

What we are taking from all this is that young people need to REGISTER TO VOTE. All people need to, if you are allowed. Just take NJ as an example, a petrie dish, if you will for this little example. With half the voters against marijuana and half for it, all it would take to make it legal would be for all of the people who want it to go and register to vote.
Dig?
Once you do that, do not wait until the big election in two years. Start sending your message as soon as possible. Start small with local elections. If somebody is campaigning in NJ for the position of County Dogcatcher and Christie supports him, vote for the other candidate. DO NOT VOTE FOR ANYONE. USE YOUR VOTE TO VOTE AGAINST THE BAD GUYS. When Christie’s choice for Dogcatcher loses, it sends a message. It goes up the line. We would suggest voting out all incumbents to neutralize the Lobbyists who really run the country, too.
For all the tricks, all the games, all the brainwashing and mind-control that goes on, one thing that cannot be fought is the power of the mass vote. We are trained to think we do not count. What can one vote mean? Especially the vote of somebody who has been beaten down…What good can one vote do? That is exactly why power brokers like Christie have citizens by the balls. We are so used to being told that we do not count, that we do not even bother. That is how the bad guys win.
Bad guys? While half the people approve of MMJ in NJ, here is what ‘The Girth With No Mirth’ had to say, “To me, it’s just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that.”
We like NJ but go tell the people in Bayonne and Fort Lee about quality of life. It is not so pretty there. Where is the quality of life for the people in NJ prisons for possessing marijuana for medical use? Where did Christie hide his last package of Hostess Ding-Dongs?
Who knows? These rhetorical questions can hang there forever unless somebody takes action.
Please go register to vote and keep up with any and all local elections…for you own good and for the good of us all!

This is a free blog so typos are to be expected!

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Regarding Our Contribution to Stony Brook U’s Allen Ginsberg Archive

ginsyLiterate Lollygaggers,

We found this by accident today. It was posted by the Stony Brook University Special Collections & University Archives Department on January 14, 2014.
We treasured our correspondence from Ginsberg but rather than sell it posthumously, we decided to donate it to the archive there. Stanford University also has Ginsberg’s correspondence, which they paid him a million dollars for, and we also have some items over there.

If you have Beat items and no one to leave them to in case of untimely death, we can suggest a few nice archives, just send us a note!

Thanks for looking.
We appreciate it as always.

Allen Ginsberg Collection
Manuscript Collection 437

Description

1 postcard (4″ x 6″), two sides, correspondence and poem written by Allen Ginsberg to Mike Hendrick, ca. 1973. 

Donated by Michael Hendrick, 2010.

Processed by Kristen J. Nyitray, Head, Special Collections and University Archives, September 2010. 

Introduction</p>

Acclaimed poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was born in Newark, N.J. and was raised in Paterson, N.J., where his father, Louis Ginsberg, himself a poet, taught high school English. Allen Ginsberg’s mother was confined for years in a mental hospital. He mourned for her in his long poem titled Kaddish (1961). In 1943, while attending Columbia University, Ginsberg befriended Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, who later established themselves as significant contributors to the Beat Movement. After leaving Columbia in 1948, Mr. Ginsberg traveled widely and worked at a number of jobs, including cafeteria floor mopper to market researcher.

In 1956, Allen Ginsberg’s first published book of poetry, Howl and Other Poems, lamented what he believed to have been the destruction by insanity of the “best minds of [his] generation.” Expressive and raw with honesty, the poem revealed Ginsberg’s opinions on homosexuality, drug addiction, Buddhism, and his revulsion from what he saw as the materialism and insensitivity of post-World War II America.

Ginsberg began a life of ceaseless travel, reading his poetry at campuses and coffee bars, traveling abroad, and engaging in left-wing political activities. Empty Mirror, Kaddish and Other Poems and Reality Sandwiches were all published in the early 1960s. He became an influential guru of the American youth counterculture in the late 1960s. He acquired a deeper knowledge of Buddhism, and increasingly a religious element of love for all sentient beings entered his work.

His later volumes of poetry included Planet News (1968); The Fall of America: Poems of These States, 1965-1971 (1972), which won the National Book Award and White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 (1986).

Allen Ginsberg died of a heart attack while suffering from liver cancer on April 5, 1997 in New York City.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica Online and the Gale Literary Database Contemporary Authors.


Transcript of Poem 

“Returning to the Country for a Brief Visit” 

Old-one the dog stretches stiff-legged,
Soon he’ll be underground.  Spring’s first fat bee
Buzzes yellow over new grass and dead leaves.
What’s this little brown insect walking zigzag
Over the sunny white page of Su Tung-P’O’s poem?
Fly away, tiny mite, even your life is tender – 
I lift the book and blow you into the dazzling void.

Allen Ginsberg   4/20/73

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On Vocabulary: The Most Profane, Dirtiest Word (contains a bad word it is legal to say)

voteLiterate Readers and Cunning Linguists,

Having just overheard a version of the evening news we report about the lack of change in Congress as regards all thing screwed up in this country (USA). That’s what they said on TV so it has to be true, unless the internet says it is not. A lot of people have been coming to read the blog on “What Would Allen Ginsberg Do…” so we suppose they may be gearing up.
We thank the anonymous but googlable Ms. Buckly of the Parkridge, NJ, school district for raising the question by instructing people to read about Ginsberg and Occupiers. We welcome the opinions of all readers. Even Chris Christie.

It is enough to make a person say fuck!!!
The F-word used to be considered the second most foul word in our insult slang and that of other nations. However, this view is skewed. We see the word fuck all over the place. It is on walls. It is in books. It is in the movies and sometimes slips onto network television. This being no outlaw word, we have adopted it as a national treasure.

LOBBYIST, on the other hand, fails to appear scrawled in paint under bridges and on railroad cars, carved into K-12 school desks when they were made of wood or on daring tattoos.
Lobbyist is fuck times ten. It requires a lobbyist to truly fuck us all. They pay our elected officials on both sides of the aisles…the cash concerns do not have party lines. Money crosses every line. Money redraws lines (see US Constitution).

Oddly, but concidence is oft the case in these things, the word ‘lobbyist’ has the same amount of letters as the word ‘occupier’. Not getting many dispatches from Occupiers lately, but admittedly ignoring mainstream news, we reckon they recline and plot while waiting for the next Presidential election. They regard linguistics lightly, obviously, since they do not see the difference between ‘fuck’ and ‘lobbyist.’
Maybe they do – but if so, they stand guilty for not encouraging their mates to REGISTER TO VOTE AND VOTE OUT EVERY INCUMBENT CANDIDATE ON THE TICKET EVERY TIME.
DO NOT VOTE ‘FOR’…VOTE ‘AGAINST’…THIS IS WAR!
It may not seem like a big thing. Votes have been rigged like the Bush family did in Florida. It is easy to rig a vote in a state where many residents are retirees, minorities and indigents. It is a whole different thing to have a groundswell of votes come in where even missing chats are not enough to argue over.
USE YOUR VOTE ALREADY!!!
The vote is the big lie. Nobody profiting from it wants their constituents to know how much they stole from them over the years. Some old members of Congress need to be wheelchaired in and shaken awake to vote. The dubious question of whether they even know which Bill the are voting on scares us.
This way the lobbyists lose the longtime good old boy connections which are treasonous, really. We pay taxes which pay elected officials in Congress and the House of Representatives. They pledge to serve us. Then they pocket a wad from an old pal and sell us down the river to buy a new boat for themselves.

We do not mean to disparage the Occupiers. We may have in the past but in recently speaking with activists like Paul Krassner and the late Amiri Baraka, both of whom said the group had good intentions if nothing else, we reformed but still wish for an organized front that will properly plan and target the bad guys in the only way that cannot be disputed en masse.

Go for it!!!
Please!!!!!

This is a free blog and if you find typos, you get a prize.

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Allen Ginsberg, Jackson Pollock, Tupac Shakur and Big Vladdy

putinfishyginsygrantparkputin4Gentle Readers,
With one eye on the wheel and both hands on the road, we do our best to keep abreast of odd things happening around the world.
Fitting this dubious category is the statement made by Universal Bully Vlad (the impaler) Putin. News media this week carried a clip of the blue-eyed dapper dungeonkeeper saying…

“The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work….”

Now isn’t that an interesting statement? It makes us look at him in a different way. Patti Smith recently described him taking the world’s biggest nastiest shit, the worst ever taken or left, in a solid gold commode. He really is not a nice man. He was head of the KGB and many people died under his hand, many literally by his hand.

At this point, Informed Intellects, we feel it necessary to note that this blog has always been a friend and has supported the LGBTQ community. The following statements are merely speculation of the purest form. We seriously wonder if Mr. Putin is gay? We look at his baby blues and they way he just loves his wardrobe, the fact that we never see Russia’s ‘first lady’ (although her meat could be hanging to dry for a future state dinner appetizer). Most world leaders do not have pics like this on their Facebook page, do they?putin3

It leads us down the path of trying to figure out what the brute thinks…we look at his choices. There is a lot to be learned from all three of these artist. Oh my, he likes the Arts…he named a poet, a painter and a poet rapper. We have to admit that we enjoy the work of all three as well.

Jeepers…as odd as it sounds, we made a mistake!

Putin didn’t say that, it was another Big Vladdy, Vladislav Surkov. On Monday, The New Republic said this of Surkov… was the chief architect of Putinism. He reduced the elimination of democracy, civil society, and a free press to a handful of cynically named “technologies.” (Given Russia’s historical and cultural uniqueness, he wrote, it needs something called “sovereign democracy.”) He invented the various ways to control, manipulate, marginalize, and co-opt Putin’s political opponents, always with the deft touch of a chess master.

Most blogs would wipe the mistakes clean, so as to look intelligent but not us…we shall take you along with us the thought process for reckoning this situation out…we think they both suck but we can understand what Putin likes about the Big Guy. Hey, everybody needs to let it loose sometime, yeah? Those big shoulders and swarthy dark looks may be what Putin goes for.putinlovey
For his side, we must admit that although Pollock was sexually ambiguous, we suspect that Vladdy really has a thing for Ed Harris, who could do a good Putin without make-up we bet. And is it Ginsberg that interests him or is it James Franco, who played him recently in a film? Tupac? Well, look at the guy…smooth skin, big beautiful eyes (like Putin!)…put the right doo rag on him and he could look downright sweet! We do not wish to insult Mr. Shakur or his estate, however, since we do respect him for his work and for not being the usual thug, as he was expected to be. He was a good man.

So what are we saying here? As usual, we don’t know…we just ramble and throw out thoughts for you to gesticulate upon. We found it to be a strange statement and it was much-overlooked so we had to tell you, Dear Readers, so you could have something to discuss after dinner…speaking of dinner, be sure to dress well!putin

As usual, this is a free bog so if you spot any typos, just put up with them!

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