Tag Archives: independent lens

William S. Burroughs and the Mushroom Machine~Tonight on PBS (or not)!!!

     Space Travelers, tonight is the night that the PBS series Independent Lens presents the installment on our beloved mentor and spiritual scout, William S. Burroughs: A Man Within. Scanning through the local listings, we see that the episode will be presented at 10pm on WHYY, the Philadelphia-based PBS channel.

     Unfortunately, we see that in the Lehigh Valley, on WLTV and to the north on WITF, the mushroom machine is in full-work mode, keeping people in the dark and feeding them shit.  They will NOT be airing the episode tonight.

     Why hide a life that shows how decades of heroin addiction did nothing to slow down the juggernaut that was WS Burroughs?  Why hide the fact that this junky put the lid on censorship in the USA, following the lead of Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer, who broke through walls to give us free speech and use of words, as we were promised in the Constitution of the USA?  Why hide a man who shot his wife in the head during a speed and alcohol fueled ‘William Tell Act’ which went bad?

     Why? Because he is a hero to so many and to encourage such behavior would be American, actually.  Dubbed the ‘Godfather of Punk,’ he was cooler at age 70 than any of us, hanging with the punks, letting them draw on his energy, guiding them toward the expression of the word as emotion.  We do not want our kids admiring somebody like this!  It gives the wrong impression about doing your homework and working hard to get smashed by the AmericanDreamMachine, which has become more of a sleight of hand trick than anything.

     Call your local PBS channel and ask them when they will show this episode of Independent Lens. Remind them that they will be asking for donations soon and this will weigh heavily on your decision to give. Tell them anything but make sure they know they did wrong by not airing this great program.

     Otherwise, Comcast viewers in my area of the Greater Philadelphia region can watch on WHYY…and the next time WHYY has a fund-raiser, remember this!


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From The Beat Cookie Jar – William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

     Gentle Readers, a new morsel of the good stuff showed up in the Beat cookie jar today, an advance copy of a PBS Independent Lens series episode, which will air across the USA starting February 22 – William S. Burroughs: A Man Within.

     Even before it arrived, we liked it for the title, which brings to mind one of our most favorite books by Burroughs, The Cat Inside.  It is a work of straight writing, like his novels Junky and Queer, and we prefer his traditional style moreso than his lunatic-fringed works, which are always the target of imitators and penny-ante enthusiasts, a fad which seem to recur every ten years or so since we first ‘discovered’ Beat writing in the 1970s.  We consider ourselves, here at CFYSA, lucky to have read most of the Beats at a tender age.  It allowed many details to be forgotten in the thirty years hence – which makes those same works a joy to rediscover and reread now, in what we assume to be adulthood.

     We have not viewed the new DVD yet, since it still has cookie crumbs clinging to the wrapper.  It will be reviewed in the next issue of Beatdom Issue 9 – The Drugs Issue.  It will appear on your own tv sets in about two or three weeks, however, so we thought it prudent to give you all a heads-up on this marvelous bit of programming.

     With a soundtrack by our hero and Burroughs compatriot, Patti Smith (along with Sonic Youth) and narrated by Naked Lunch star Peter Weller, the film shows previously unreleased footage of The Man, as well as unseen interviews with many others, including Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, Anne Waldman, John Waters, Laurie Anderson, Patti Smith and Jello Biafra as part of the diverse array.  This is a goldmine for Burroughs fans everywhere!

     PBS has also launched a companion website to promote the film at www.pbs.org/independentlens/burroughs where fans can get more detailed information, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker and explore the links and resources.  Viewers of the site can even share their ideas and opinions on the Talkback section of the site.

     This is a rather short blog but it is only here to point you to the film, which was made by a 25-year-old high school dropout – our favorite type of scholar – Yony Leyser.  Actually, some websites say he dropped out of college, some say film school and others say high school…we just admire him as an Outsider who dropped out to follow his vision.  Shouldn’t everybody?


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