COOL PEOPLE – At Just 25, Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton Channels the Spirit of a Bygone Era


At Just 25, Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton Channels the Spirit of a Bygone Era



Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton at Ozark Folk Center

Categories: Blues, Feature, Longform

When Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton sits in for a set at the Jalopy Theatre in Red Hook, Brooklyn, it is a raucous affair. It’s not uncommon for his audiences to whoop, holler, and stomp in unison — hard enough to shake the floor. Paxton shifts from piano to guitar to fiddle to a five-string banjo that looks like he time-traveled to the 1920s, stole it from a juke joint, and dropped it on the ground a few times on the way back. His repertoire of old-timey music is vast — altogether, he says, he can play two or three thousand songs.

On this particular autumn night, his set includes Irish jigs, a pop song from the 1930s called “The Very Thought of You” (recorded by Al Bowlly, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, and Elvis Costello, among many others), and bluegrass favorite “Old Johnny Booker” from the early 1900s.He also throws in an obscure spoken-word number from the mid 1960s (and from deep in the well of the black oral tradition), a story of doomed lust entitled “ ’Flicted Arm Pete” that he recites while accompanying himself on the piano.

It was way down in this little town that they call Louisville,

There once lived a fast-fucking whore by the name of Lil.

Now Lil had nipples on her titties just about as thick as your thumb,

Lil had jaws on her pussy that would make a dead man come.

But one day out of the mountains came a long-dicked creep,

That was a sonofabitch that we all call ‘Flicted Arm Pete.

Paxton can get away with even the dirtiest verse. “He’s — pardon the expression — a magic negro,” says Los Angeles–based musician and performer Brad Kay, a longtime friend and mentor. “I think he could walk into a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan and have them all singing along.” Paxton’s grandfatherly bluesman bearing, which one woman in the audience describes as “adorable,” doesn’t hurt. Kay compares his friend’s build to a refrigerator. He has an unfocused gaze, the result of a congenital condition that has rendered him legally blind.

Tonight he’s dressed in a blue button-up shirt, navy slacks, a gray sweater-vest, and a black yarmulke. Part African American, part Native American, and of Cajun descent, Paxton is an Orthodox Jew.

He’s also 25 years old.

Throughout his set, he carries on a patter both between and during songs. He’d apologized at the outset for being under the weather. There would be little singing, he said, owing to a bout of bronchitis. “I feel like a sweaty, sexy beast,” he says later, moving heavily under the hot stage lights.

Last year was a big one for Paxton. He traveled to New Orleans, France, and Israel, and — closer to home but veritably out of this world, symbolically — played his first set at the Newport Folk Festival, the granddaddy of them all.

The coming year promises to be just as eventful, if not more so. More traveling, more festivals, an album in the works. And, most important to him, more music. “There is so much work to be done,” he says.

Blind Boy Paxton is six-foot-two, but he only stands to get bigger.

Photo by Bill Steber
Note: Jerron Paxton is a right-handed player. To preserve the integrity of the wet-plate tintype on the cover, the image appears reversed.

Jerron Paxton was born and reared in South Central Los Angeles, a neighborhood that in 2003 the city renamed “South L.A.” in an effort to distance it from its infamous drug- and violence-ridden past. Whatever you call it, South Central L.A. was and is home to large, often poverty-stricken black and Latino communities. It was, famously, the site of the Watts riots of 1965, and of the uprising that followed the police-inflicted beating of Rodney King in the early 1990s. Not coincidentally, the area also played a part in spawning the West Coast hip-hop scene, along with musical acts ranging from Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy to Barry White, Keb’ Mo’, and Montell Jordan.Further back, the area was a mecca for blacks in search of better lives. In the early decades of the 20th century, South Central was home to a bustling jazz scene. Legendary New Orleans trombonist Kid Ory moved there after the First World War; iconic pianist Jelly Roll Morton, another New Orleans legend, came through regularly. Also among the influx of black Americans were sharecroppers from the Deep South. Many were Louisianans like Paxton’s forebears. When they moved, they brought with them the country they knew.

“Cowboy hats and cowboy boots and gumbo suppers and barbecues and Hank Williams and George Jones and Hank Snow,” Paxton says in his light drawl. The walls of his small apartment in Ridgewood, Queens, are covered with wood paintings by his roommate, Jacqueline J. Rodriguez, and various tapestries he’s bought. Wearing overalls, as he often does, Paxton sits with a guitar in his lap, strumming at times as he speaks.

Paxton enjoys telling stories about his childhood.

“I was raised up singing while you work,” he says of how music came into his life. The jazz and blues of radio station KLON (now KKJZ) contributed heavily to the soundtrack, as did Seventies pop and soul hits and PBS television programs about classical music. His grandmother’s “ghetto blaster” played a crucial role as well.

“Saturday morning, after everybody in the house got up, she’d turn it as loud as it would go,” Paxton says. “And the whole house — you know little [shotgun]-style houses, music just runs through ‘em — all the music would shoot out the back door, and we’d be in the backyard just having a good time.”

When it came to the violence nearby, Paxton says, “You just had a bunch of country people with shotguns and rifles that said, ‘Not here, baby.’ ”

He means his relatives.

South Central by birth, Paxton nonetheless grew up surrounded by Louisiana: four generations of his family on a single block. He lived with his mother, one set of grandparents, an uncle and aunt. His great-grandmother, born in 1906, lived across the street. The family was poor, he says, but never in want. There were barbecues and big home-cooked dinners — chicken and yams and cornbread and greens — a garden out back, fishing at El Dorado Park in Long Beach and up north on Lake Piru.

“I was just gardening, hunting, fishing — learning how to be a good young man,” he says.


LaSundra Reed met Larry Paxton during jury duty in the mid 1980s. The elder Paxton was a session drummer, Reed an accountant. Jerron was born in 1989 (“the Year of Our Lord 57 and 49,” he says, referencing the Hebrew calendar). His parents never married and eventually split up, but Reed says they remain good friends. Larry Paxton lived in southwestern L.A. County, in Inglewood, and Jerron recalls being taken for spins in his father’s lowrider, “bouncing up and down with funk music playing.”And so he got his father’s last name and his mother’s upbringing.

Among all the older generations that surrounded him, he shared the tightest bond with his mother’s mother, Toretear (pronounced TORE-ee-uh-tur) Reed. She and Jerron’s grandfather, Clifton Willie Reed, moved from Louisiana to L.A. in 1956, then beckoned the others to join them. (Clifton Reed died in 2003 at the age of 73, Toretear two years later at 76.) “She was happy-go-lucky, she would help everyone and anyone she could,” LaSundra Reed says.

Paxton found Toretear Reed entertaining. “I was playing on my grandma’s blaster and she was playing video poker,” he recounts. “I’m in the kitchen, and I come back where she was and I see her legs jumping and not keeping time frantically. I was, like, ‘Oh shit, Granny’s having one!’ I’m like, ‘Granny, you all right?’ And she said, ‘Yeah baby, I’m just dancing.’ ” The two would spend hours together, talking, listening and dancing to old records — blues, ragtime, jazz. Paxton remembers her singing. Always singing — often not knowing an entire song but remembering just a few lines: “Take off your coat and throw it in the corner/Don’t see why you don’t stay a little longer,” he sings, laughing. He discovered Ray Charles’s “I Got a Woman” that way, his grandmother singing a snippet of the r&b legend’s first hit — in a manner a bit more bluesy than the original, he’d later learn.

Each family member veered toward a different kind of music, combining to fill Paxton’s days with sounds from generations past. Ultimately the music that struck him most was country blues: men singing narratives, accompanying themselves on guitar. It was music meant for small audiences, before the advent of amplified Chicago blues and larger rooms.

Lightnin’ Hopkins. Jimmy Reed. Bukka White. “I realized when I heard it,” Paxton says. “That’s the sound my people make.”

Courtesy Jerron Paxton
Paxton’s grandparents, Toretear and Clifton Willie Reed, date unknown.

“When he was a young kid, maybe three or four, I would be in the kitchen cooking and he would grab a pot from under the cabinet and start beating on it and I would put it back and he’d cry,” LaSundra Reed recalls.Paxton picked up his first traditional instrument at age twelve, purely out of functional curiosity — “mechanics,” in his words. It was the violin, and he wanted to understand how it worked. “I didn’t know how you pull a bow across the strings and have that make music,” he says. The piano he understood, having looked inside one. Guitar too. But the violin was a mystery. So he asked for one. His aunt obliged, and for the next several years he took lessons at school on Saturdays. The violin didn’t come easy, but the banjo, which he took up two years later (amid the bluegrass resurgence that accompanied the Coen Brothers’ film O Brother, Where Art Thou?), proved a more natural fit. Two more years hence, the guitar was the clincher. “I had the guitar about fifteen or sixteen hours and had about seven or eight tunes. It felt like something I’d been doing my whole life,” Paxton says.

“Maybe it took a month for him to get it down pat, but he would practice every day,” LaSundra Reed says, describing how her son learned to play. He was a shy boy, but “he always had at least two instruments with him everywhere he’d go,” his mother says, whether to family gatherings where he’d take requests (if he forgot to bring something to play, they’d send him home to get it) or to pickup basketball games, where he’d pick his banjo courtside while his friends played.

At sixteen he played his first official concert, a $100 solo gig at the William Grant Still Arts Center in South Central’s West Adams neighborhood. He played songs by Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lightnin’ Hopkins, accompanying himself on banjo and guitar.

“The most fun I’d ever had in the world,” he says, “was seeing this 90-year-old woman, just shaking her shit with her grandchildren.”

Around that time, Paxton’s eyesight began to fail him. At seventeen it got so bad he went to the doctor and discovered he was, in fact, legally blind. He’d be diagnosed with congenital retinal deterioration and cone dystrophy, a hereditary condition that eventually causes blindness. Today he describes having lost his peripheral vision completely and at times seeing things that aren’t there.

Wandering around Santa Monica one Sunday in 2007, eighteen-year-old Jerron Paxton stopped in to a small, colorful venue called the UnUrban Coffee House. He’d recently begun teaching himself piano and knew there was one at the café on which anyone was welcome to practice.

Jazz and ragtime pianist Kay, who’d been performing around L.A. since the mid Sixties, was performing when Paxton walked in. That first encounter, Kay says, was unforgettable.

“There was hardly anybody in the joint. I looked up and I saw standing in the doorway a very large, very black person in overalls. He was looking straight at me, and he had this look: like Stanley had found Livingstone or something. I kept playing, and he kept staring. He had a guitar by his side and a little washboard tie. When I finished I got down from the stage and I went over to him. He was apparently blind — he had shades and a white cane. I said, ‘So, you look like a musician.’ He said, ‘I am.’ I said, ‘Yeah? Well, what kind of music do you play?’ ‘Oh, I like them ragtimes.’ ”

That’s when it hit Kay: The kid was a dead ringer for legendary finger picking guitarist, Blind Blake who’d moved from Florida to Chicago in the mid 1920s, recorded a trove of singular ragtime-influenced blues sides, then disappeared. (Blake is said to have died from tuberculosis in 1934 in Milwaukee.) Intrigued, Kay invited the young man to sit in.

“I never ask anybody to sit in that I don’t know, but I made an exception. I said, ‘Well, what do you know?’ He says, ‘Oh, how about the “Southern Rag”?’ Now, I knew this was a piece by Blind Blake, so I said, ‘OK, have at it.’ So I played and he played — and goddamn if it wasn’t the ‘Southern Rag’ played by Blind Blake! It didn’t sound something like Blind Blake, a guy imitating Blind Blake. It fucking was Blind Blake!”

Paxton began spending time with Kay. For hours they’d listen to Kay’s huge record collection, talk about music, and play. Paxton had never taken piano lessons, and as he figured out the songs he liked, Kay would give him pointers. One song that struck Paxton in particular was Sugar Underwood’s “Davis Street Blues,” an intricate piano piece recorded in 1927.

“I think that was the one time I got him to slow down and look at something,” Kay, now 63, recalls by phone from L.A. “He wanted to play just like Sugar Underwood.”

Photo by Jena Cumbo for the Village Voice.
Paxton’s mother says he was a shy boy but always had at least two instruments with him everywhere he went.

College was a given for Paxton — he would be the first in his family to attend. Grandma Reed had been set on it, having herself attended only through grade school.”She would say from the time she could lift a skillet, she had to work,” Paxton says. “From seven years old, she was a part of the workforce.”

He can’t remember where else he applied, but Marist College, on the banks of the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, offered a scholarship. It was his first time so far away from home. He tried classes in philosophy and history but found himself escaping to the music room at every opportunity. “I was cutting classes to spend the majority of my time practicing piano,” he says.

Sometimes that too was a struggle.

“He called me up sometimes at four in the morning, all suicidal and saying, ‘I’m never gonna get this piece,’ ” Kay says. “He just could never get over his impatience, the inconvenience of actually having to practice the thing.”

Paxton describes the experience of learning new tunes in a more visceral way: “I really believe you never really learn anything. You just learn how to keep out of your way. Your body knows what to do, but for some reason you kinda freak out — I guess your body gets nervous.”

Whenever he could, he found a way to get to the city, where he began to explore the folk scene. He discovered the Jalopy one weekend when C.W. Stoneking, an Australian blues guitarist with whom Paxton had struck up an online friendship a few years earlier, was slated to play a set at the Brooklyn folk club. Stoneking generously offered to split his set with Paxton.

With a hand-built stage, church-pew seating, and a husband-and-wife ownership team, Geoff and Lynette Wiley, dedicated to the music, the Jalopy was a magnet for the folk crowd in Brooklyn and beyond. Paxton instantly found himself pulled into its force field. He met the Wileys; folksinger Feral Foster, at whose Wednesday night “Roots and Ruckus” hootenannies Paxton performs regularly; Eli Smith, the host of the online Down Home Radio Show who’d go on to co-found the Brooklyn Folk Festival in 2009; and banjo player Hubby Jenkins, now a member of the Grammy-winning old-time string band Carolina Chocolate Drops.

“For me it was almost like when Clapton and the Who and everybody went to go see Jimi Hendrix in London for the first time and they were, like, crying,” Jenkins says of seeing Paxton play that first time. “It was just so good.”

Courtesy Jerron Paxton
Paxton at age fourteen, in his backyard in Los Angeles with a carp he caught at Echo Park. His uncle Johnnie Johnson came by to show him how to skin it.

Not long after that first trip to the Jalopy, Paxton made a decision: He wanted to be a professional musician. In 2010 he transferred to the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Greenwich Village, crashing on friends’ couches while he looked for a place of his own. One sometime roommate, fellow Jalopy-goer Horatio Baltz, is a graphic designer and photographer by trade but had recently started a jazz band, the Bill Murray Experience. Paxton began filling in, playing piano or banjo.


He was already fiddling around with various aliases. There was Jerron Paxton, of course, but in his teens he’d created MySpace pages — one for J-Dog (“just for being a teenager”), and another, blues-centric one called “Blind Boy” Paxton. The latter relic, along with a Blind Boy Gmail account, had been drawing other musicians and circulating around the folk universe, leading to requests to play solo.Composer, pianist, and ragtime expert Terry Waldo remembers inviting Paxton up to sing when the latter came to hear Waldo play at Fat Cat, a pool hall that features live jazz and blues in the West Village.

“I never thought I’d hear anybody sing like this,” Waldo says. “There’s something primordial about the way he sings. He has a real depth to what he’s doing and a sensitivity to the music.” Waldo would invite Paxton to join him at gigs around the city and, in one instance, the two shared a stage at a show in Trenton, New Jersey, dedicated to “whorehouse music.” One of Waldo’s friends bought Paxton a piano that now sits in his living room.

Next came more far-flung gigs — at the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival in Washington State, and at the Black Banjo Gathering at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. He honed his solo act, realizing that playing alone was more lucrative than performing in a group. He found a manager, Steve Fugett of the Road Warrior Agency.

After two semesters, he dropped out of the New School. The focus on contemporary work and not the early jazz he was drawn to made for a bad fit, he says.

Onstage or off-, Paxton possesses the same soft-spoken, friendly manner. He is equally excited to meet people he doesn’t know and to see those he has known his whole life. He insists on bear hugs (“hug my neck” or “hug me, bitch”) and seems to regard every new face as a potential new friend.

During a set he shifts from instrument to instrument, picking up the guitar, moving to the piano, sitting down with his banjo. He berates his guitar (“Oh, fuck you”) when it refuses to stay in tune, takes requests, tells dirty jokes, dances while he plays. “We’re all in this together,” he seems to be saying.

He now can count among his fans Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna founding member Jorma Kaukonen. The two met this past fall at Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio. “He brings a joie de vivre to his performances that is sure to infect any listener. Not just lovers of ‘old timey’ stuff,” Kaukonen — a Blind Blake devotee himself — writes in an email. “Jerron is a master of styles that were old (but never out of date) when I was born in 1940. He brings a traditional style to life without coming off as an ‘archivist.’ He does it his way without relinquishing the immediacy of a bygone era.”

John Cohen of the old-time string band New Lost City Ramblers, a crucial player in the folk revival of the Sixties and hugely influential to subsequent musicians, tells of watching his fifteen-year-old granddaughter hear Paxton play in Baltimore. “She was totally taken in by him, and I think that’s so important — that he can reach a teenage girl,” Cohen says. “She just heard him as a fascinating, wonderful musician who’s absorbed in what he’s doing.”

Miles Spicer, who sits on the board of the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation outside Washington, D.C., had a similar experience when his son, then eleven years old, caught a recent Paxton solo performance there. “He’s funny,” young Nick Spicer said. “He could make Jimmy Fallon laugh.”

This year Paxton will serve as artistic director of the Port Townsend festival, where he’ll play and teach in late July and August. On February 21 the BBC will air a program about music from the South, which includes a Paxton performance shot in June 2014 at Dockery’s Plantation in Mississippi. And he’ll soon release his first album, which he recorded in Venice, California, with the help of fiddle player Frank Fairfield. Paxton says he and Fairfield recorded more than forty songs, from which they chose the best ten, including the Appalachian classic “Poor Benny” and the old standard “Motherless Child Blues.” (Also, a song about a chicken. “Gotta have a song about a chicken,” Paxton says.) He plans to sell the album, Recorded Music for Your Entertainment, to audiences at his shows, and hopes to land it on iTunes.He no longer uses his cane, having decided to lose it soon after moving to New York.

“After about a night or two of using it, I was like: Somebody sees a dude with a cane walking around at three o’clock in the morning, that might be asking for trouble. So I put it in my bag, and that was about it.”

At home, Paxton keeps his days simple. He calls his mother several times a week. Evenings he’ll take in a show, stop by the Jalopy, or put on Netflix, where he gravitates to the westerns he used to watch with his grandfather. Habitually up until past sunrise, he arises at noon to daven Shacharit, or say the morning Jewish prayer. He cooks breakfast (he’s partial to kosher Creole gumbo and dirty rice, or Creole matzo-ball soup), and hurries out — “still knocking the cobwebs” — to Mincha, the afternoon prayer service, at his local temple, Beit Aharon.

“Instead of having this great story where we had Judaism through slavery and kept it for so long, it’s just that one of my grandmothers [Toretear Reed] was a Sephardic woman,” Paxton says, explaining his heritage. Most of his family is Baptist, and he was brought up going to church. As he learned about Judaism from Reed in his mid teens, he began feeling closer to the religion. He’s the only practicing Jew in the family.

Orthodox Jews in particular place a high value on marriage and family. But Paxton says he has other priorities right now and couldn’t envision being a good father, husband, and traveling musician.

“I wanna do right by my kids and be there as much as possible,” he says. “And as a person who has a visual impairment and limited ways of earning an income, the best way to earn my income is being a traveling musician.

“I’m also not finished with my fast living.”




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Step Into The Real Texas


George Strait – Amarillo By Morning (Live From The Astrodome)

Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Amarillo, TX

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Howdy! glad you stopped by to visit Amarillo, Texas. We’re the place where you can “Step into the Real Texas.” From canyons to cowboys, big steaks to big spaces, everything Texas is famous for is right here. We’re easy to find and once you’re here, you’ll want to stay an extra day or two.Amarillo is in the center of the Texas Panhandle, a 26-county area that is bordered by New Mexico and Oklahoma. Here, the southern plains meet the desert. Founded in 1887 at the intersection of two railroads, today the city is the intersection of Interstates 40 and 27.

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The Amarillo area is a major destination for Old West enthusiasts from all over the globe. The lure of the Old West also draws thousands every year to attractions like the internationally-famous outdoor musical “TEXAS.

The Big Texan Steak Restaurant in Amarillo, TX

Big Texan Steak Ranch

Think Amarillo and you think steak. No place sums up Texas, Amarillo and steak better than the Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of the 72 oz. steak. Eat it and all the trimmings (salad, bread, potato and shrimp cocktail) in an hour and its free! 35,000 have tried; 5,500 have succeeded.


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This is the legendary 32oz steak -if you can eat it all you get it for free

The area’s most famous bumper crop, located south of Interstate 40 just a few miles west of town, the Cadillac Ranch attracts visitors from around the world. The 10 Cadillacs buried nose down celebrate America’s love affair with the automobile.

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Cadillac Ranch Amarillo, Texas
The Cadillac Ranch, copyright by Rik Gruwez, Ant Farm’s Cadillac Ranch

Several myths have been perpetuated about the origin of the Cadillac Ranch, the most popular of which is the one I heard growing up in the Texas Panhandle. As the story went, an eccentric Amarillo, Texas millionaire would buy one Cadillac after another and when it was time to buy a new one, he would have the old one buried nose first on his land. However, the truth is, the Cadillac Ranch was a planned artistic endeavor.

Yes, Texas millionaire Stanley Marsh, 3 was an eccentric. He was also said to be very down to earth, quickly disregarding the “III” as too pretentious and using “3” instead. In 1973, Marsh invited a San Francisco artists’ collective called the Ant Farm to help him in the creation of a unique work of art for his sprawling ranch just west of Amarillo.
The group set about acquiring ten used Cadillac’s, ranging in model years from 1948 to 1963. Built along the tattered remains of historic Route 66, the cars were meant to represent the “Golden Age” of American automobiles. Most of the cars were purchased from junk yards, and averaged about $200. The cars were then buried nose-down, facing west along the old highway. Those that could run, were driven into the half-burial holes, the rest were hoisted in. In 1974 the project was completed and in no time at all, visitors began to come from all over the world, leaving their mark on the ever-thickening graffiti covered cars.

At first, the cars displayed their original paint jobs – turquoise, banana yellow, gold, and sky blue, but barely was the monument complete, when people were scratching or painting their names in the cars. Over time, vandals and souvenir hounds smashed the windows, made off with all the chrome, radios, speakers and even some of the doors. The wheels have since been welded to the axles to prevent more theft. However, Marsh still says “We think it looks better every year.”

In 1997, the Cadillac Ranch was exhumed and replanted about two miles to the west, in order to escape the encroaching city of Amarillo. Under Marsh’s orders, even the old site’s trash and clutter was gathered from the old location and spread around the new location. Otherwise the monument remains the same (and, ever changing) since it was erected.

Marsh encouraged visitors to visit the Cadillac Ranch and seemingly didn’t mind the constant graffiti added to the cars.

However, Marsh had many other “artistic endeavors” in the Amarillo, one of which is the placement of eccentric and odd “road signs” all over the city. As to these colorful signs, he did mind if they are mutilated or stolen. (You can read more about Marsh’s Road Signs by clicking HERE!)
True Texan in form, Marsh had more than a few run-ins with the law over his brand of enforcement. At one point, it was said that he penned an 18-year old boy with a hammer inside his chicken coop, when the boy was caught red-handed with one of his signs.

Throughout the years, the Cadillac Ranch has been repainted many times. In May, 2002, the cars were restored to their original colors. In June, 2003 the cars were again painted, this time in flat black, in response to the passing of the founding member of the Ant Farm.

Some people today may think the burial of these now much sought after collector’s items is a sacrilege. But in 1974, these cars were not popular and most of them were bought from junk yards at an average price of just $200.00. Had they not been used for the ranch “sculpture,” they would have wound up in the metal crusher.

This monument was built as a public sculpture and visitors are encouraged to participate in it. So, it’s ok if you take your can of Krylon with you, leaving your name or an inspiring message, which will, no doubt, be erased by another message soon. Photographs may be taken at the site, however, any commercial exploitation in advertising or product promotion is expressly prohibited without written permission from the artists. The Cadillac Ranch has appeared on numerous TV shows, magazines, and newspaper accounts.

Stanley March, 3 died in June of 2014 at the age of 76.

Amarillo is the largest Texas city on Route 66. Now, a stretch of the old highway, along Sixth Ave. between Georgia and Western Sts., has been revived into a stretch of antique shops, restaurants and cafes.

It’s hard to describe the grandeur and variety of the Amarillo landscape. From 1000-foot deep Palo Duro Canyonand the wide-open spaces of the Texas Panhandle to the whimsy of the world-famous Cadillac Ranch and those magnificent Amarillo sunsets, it’s all here.

George Strait – Amarillo By Morning (Live From The Astrodome)

Norman J. Olson a few more poems and artwork

Norman J. Olson a few more poems and artwork

Norman J. Olson a few more poems and art

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Published on Apr 22, 2014…/b26agv6…/my%20movie%202.mp4…

a brief poetry reading and art by Minnesota small press poet and artist Norman J. Olson

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Three Grandmas Smoke Weed For The First Time And It’s Hilarious

Three Grandmas Smoke Weed For The First Time And It’s Hilarious

Three Grandmas Smoke Weed For The First Time And It’s Hilarious

If you’ve ever wondered what 3 grandmas high on weed might look like, look no further! Paula, Dorothea and Deirdre had never tried weed before, but the Cut Video Youtube channel gathered them together in Washington state, where recreational marijuana use…



New police radars can ‘see’ inside homes

Radar devices allowing officers to detect movement through walls have been secretly used by at least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies over the last two years. VPC

At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies quietly deployed radars that let them effectively see inside homes, with little notice to the courts or the public.


WASHINGTON — At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside, a practice raising new concerns about the extent of government surveillance.

Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used. The technology raises legal and privacy issues because the U.S. Supreme Court has said officers generally cannot use high-tech sensors to tell them about the inside of a person’s house without first obtaining a search warrant.

The radars work like finely tuned motion detectors, using radio waves to zero in on movements as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet. They can detect whether anyone is inside of a house, where they are and whether they are moving.

The RANGE-R handheld radar is used by dozens of U.S. law enforcement agencies to help detect movement inside buildings. See how it works in this video provided by L-3 Communications VPC

Current and former federal officials say the information is critical for keeping officers safe if they need to storm buildings or rescue hostages. But privacy advocates and judges have nonetheless expressed concern about the circumstances in which law enforcement agencies may be using the radars — and the fact that they have so far done so without public scrutiny.

“The idea that the government can send signals through the wall of your house to figure out what’s inside is problematic,” said Christopher Soghoian, the American Civil Liberties Union’s principal technologist. “Technologies that allow the police to look inside of a home are among the intrusive tools that police have.”

Agents’ use of the radars was largely unknown until December, when a federal appeals court in Denver said officers had used one before they entered a house to arrest a man wanted for violating his parole. The judges expressed alarm that agents had used the new technology without a search warrant, warning that “the government’s warrantless use of such a powerful tool to search inside homes poses grave Fourth Amendment questions.”

By then, however, the technology was hardly new. Federal contract records show the Marshals Service began buying the radars in 2012, and has so far spent at least $180,000 on them.

Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said officials are reviewing the court’s decision. He said the Marshals Service “routinely pursues and arrests violent offenders based on pre-established probable cause in arrest warrants” for serious crimes.

The device the Marshals Service and others are using, known as the Range-R, looks like a sophisticated stud-finder. Its display shows whether it has detected movement on the other side of a wall and, if so, how far away it is — but it does not show a picture of what’s happening inside. The Range-R’s maker, L-3 Communications, estimates it has sold about 200 devices to 50 law enforcement agencies at a cost of about $6,000 each.


Other radar devices have far more advanced capabilities, including three-dimensional displays of where people are located inside a building, according to marketing materials from their manufacturers. One is capable of being mounted on a drone. And the Justice Department has funded research to develop systems that can map the interiors of buildings and locate the people within them.

The radars were first designed for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. They represent the latest example of battlefield technology finding its way home to civilian policing and bringing complex legal questions with it.

Those concerns are especially thorny when it comes to technology that lets the police determine what’s happening inside someone’s home. The Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that the Constitution generally bars police from scanning the outside of a house with a thermal camera unless they have a warrant, and specifically noted that the rule would apply to radar-based systems that were then being developed.

In 2013, the court limited police’s ability to have a drug dog sniff the outside of homes. The core of the Fourth Amendment, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, is “the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.”

Still, the radars appear to have drawn little scrutiny from state or federal courts. The federal appeals court’s decision published last month was apparently the first by an appellate court to reference the technology or its implications.

That case began when a fugitive-hunting task force headed by the U.S. Marshals Service tracked a man named Steven Denson, wanted for violating his parole, to a house in Wichita. Before they forced the door open, Deputy U.S. Marshal Josh Mofftestified, he used a Range-R to detect that someone was inside.

Moff’s report made no mention of the radar; it said only that officers “developed reasonable suspicion that Denson was in the residence.”

Agents arrested Denson for the parole violation and charged him with illegally possessing two firearms they found inside. The agents had a warrant for Denson’s arrest but did not have a search warrant. Denson’s lawyer sought to have the guns charge thrown out, in part because the search began with the warrantless use of the radar device.

Three judges on the federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the search, and Denson’s conviction, on other grounds. Still, the judges wrote, they had “little doubt that the radar device deployed here will soon generate many questions for this court.”

But privacy advocates said they see more immediate questions, including how judges could be surprised by technology that has been in agents’ hands for at least two years. “The problem isn’t that the police have this. The issue isn’t the technology; the issue is always about how you use it and what the safeguards are,” said Hanni Fakhoury, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The Marshals Service has faced criticism for concealing other surveillance tools. Last year, the ACLU obtained an e-mail from a Sarasota, Fla., police sergeant asking officers from another department not to reveal that they had received information from a cellphone-monitoring tool known as a stingray. “In the past, and at the request of the U.S. Marshals, the investigative means utilized to locate the suspect have not been revealed,” he wrote, suggesting that officers instead say they had received help from “a confidential source.”

William Sorukas, a former supervisor of the Marshals Service’s domestic investigations arm, said deputies are not instructed to conceal the agency’s high-tech tools, but they also know not to advertise them. “If you disclose a technology or a method or a source, you’re telling the bad guys along with everyone else,” he said.

Follow investigative reporter Brad Heath on Brad HeathBrad 

COOL PEOPLE – Grateful Dead reuniting for 50th-anniversary shows and iconic photos by Jim Marshall


Grateful Dead reuniting for 50th-anniversary shows
By Todd Leopold, CNN
Updated 1549 GMT (2349 HKT) January 16, 2015

141017123036-greatful-dead-sf-horizontal-large-galleryThe Grateful Dead in San Francisco in the 1960s. From left, Bill Kreutzmann, Bob Weir, Ron McKernan, Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh.

Story highlights
The Grateful Dead is reuniting for three concerts
The legendary rock group formed 50 years ago in San Francisco
(CNN)The Grateful Dead is planning on making one final splash — or should that be “Ripple”?

The venerable San Francisco band is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its formation with a three-day stand at Chicago’s Soldier Field on July 3, 4 and 5, it said in a news release. The band’s last concert took place there 20 years ago.

The four original surviving members — Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir — will take part, along with Phish’s Trey Anastasio and longtime Dead pal Bruce Hornsby. Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti is also participating.

Guitarist Jerry Garcia died in 1995. The band has also lost other members, including Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, a singer, organist and harmonica player who died in 1973, and keyboardist Keith Godchaux, who died in 1980.

Many of Jim Marshall’s photographs have become iconic, but even more — such as those from the book “The Haight” — have rarely been seen. Here, Jimi Hendrix is shown playing in San Francisco’s Winterland ballroom, 1968.

Grateful Dead: The Long Strange Trip Begins

You can’t talk about Jim’s massive and influential coverage of seminal San Francisco bands without focusing on his work with the Grateful Dead.

And you don’t have to be a Deadhead, Fellow Traveler, Merry Pranskter, aging hippie, boomer or any other member of the gigantic global tribe that avidly follows the band — and its myriad offshoots today — to appreciate the magnitude of The Dead’s importance, then and now.

Since I, once again, came very late to the party and (full disclosure) respect but don’t exactly “get” all things Dead, I have relied on the stalwart photo research of JMPLLC archivist and Dead photographer extraordinaire in his own right Jay Blakesberg. Kudos also must go to my wonderful partner and longtime Dead fan, Dan Sullivan, for his research, insights and caption support.

According to Jay, who shot his first Grateful Dead Show at the Meadowlands in 1978 and has poured over hundreds, if not thousands, of Jim’s Grateful Dead images in the JMP archive, “The first photos of Jim’s I saw as a teenager were of the Grateful Dead playing live on Haight St. on the inside of the Live/Dead album.  So all these years later when I got a chance to look at his proofs from that concert, for example,  it was interesting to note how few shots of the band there really were among all the frames.

“I know from shooting the band so much over the years myself that you maybe had five minutes of their full attention before they would start goofing off just to torture you.  They really just didn’t care about their image much, it seemed, and so you had to be really quick and patient.  I can only imagine what it must have been like for Jim, like herding kittens or something.

“And I also think that maybe Jim was looking at the events the Dead played from a historical perspective, there were so many great shots of the crowd from the top of a Victorian.  Jim was capturing the scope of the moment even though he probably wasn’t there on assignment or getting paid.

“Did he know it was going to be viewed 30-40 years later as this incredible moment in history?  Probably not, it’s just the way he shot and he probably thought to himself,  “I’ve got enough shots of the band, I just got them yesterday.  Maybe it was sort of a ‘been there, done that’ feeling and he was more intrigued with the scene around them.”

Speaking of the scene around them in the early days, the band was nothing if not a lightning rod for authority and its more tyrannical side … as it was for all those who opposed that authority.  One of the more perfect early examples is the Dead’s 1967 drug bust at the band’s house and headquarters at 710 Ashbury St.

Here’s drummer Mickey Hart’s recollections as told toSpin magazine in a Q&A from 2009:

“Q: I recently re-read an article about the infamous drug bust at the Grateful Dead house in 1967.  What’s it like to look back on those days in San Francisco?

“A: We were kids doing what kids do — and we were set up!  Not that there wasn’t a lot of dope in the house, but the inspector actually planted the stuff that they arrested us for.  They could have gone into our cabinet and found a whole bunch of it.  We were set up, but it made us famous.  Getting busted was the best thing that ever happened to us.  We made headlines.  It certainly didn’t stop our way of life — in a way, it validated it.  We thought that these people really violated our sanctity.  We didn’t take it sitting down.  So I look back on it and go, ‘Wow, that was really fun.’ “

And here’s a link to a a rather low-fi video of the press conference where Grateful Dead manager Danny Rifkin (that’s the Dead’s manager Rock Scully to his right) makes a rather eloquent case for the band and against fear tactics.  It’s amazing this argument is still raging nearly 45 years later.

Lately It Occurs to Me


Truckin’ got my chips cashed in. Keep truckin’, like the do-dah man
Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin’ on.

Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on Main Street.
Chicago, New York, Detroit and it’s all on the same street.
Your typical city involved in a typical daydream
Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings.

Dallas, got a soft machine; Houston, too close to New Orleans;
New York’s got the ways and means; but just won’t let you be.

Most of the cats that you meet on the streets speak of true love,
Most of the time they’re sittin’ and cryin’ at home.
One of these days they know they gotta get goin’
Out of the door and down on the streets all alone.

Truckin’, like the do-dah man. Once told me “You got to play your hand”
Sometimes your cards ain’t worth a damn, if you don’t lay’em down,

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it’s been.

What in the world ever became of sweet Jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same
Livin’ on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is “Ain’t it a shame?”

Truckin’, up to Buffalo. Been thinkin’, you got to mellow slow
Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin’ on.

Sittin’ and starin’ out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again
I’d like to get some sleep before I travel,
But if you got a warrant, I guess you’re gonna come in.

Busted, down on Bourbon Street, Set up, like a bowling pin.
Knocked down, it get’s to wearin’ thin. They just won’t let you be.

You’re sick of hanging around and you’d like to travel;
Get tired of traveling and you want to settle down.
I guess they can’t revoke your soul for tryin’,
Get out of the door and light out and look all around.

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me, What a long strange trip it’s been.

Truckin’, I’m a goin’ home, Whoa whoa baby, back where I belong,
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin’ home.

The band, commonly known as “the Dead,” formed in San Francisco in 1965, part of that city’s growing rock ‘n’ roll counterculture scene along with Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Charlatans. It developed a hardcore fanbase of Deadheads thanks to tireless touring and a close-knit, open-minded culture.

Its songs include “Ripple,” “Uncle John’s Band,” “Truckin’,” “Box of Rain” and “Touch of Grey.” The latter is the Dead’s only Top 10 hit.

“It is with respect and gratitude that we reconvene the Dead one last time to celebrate — not merely the band’s legacy, but also the community that we’ve been playing to, and with, for 50 years,” Lesh said in the news release. “Wave that flag, wave it wide and high.”

More information can be found at

The Grateful Dead and Bob Weir’s long strange trip

That ’60s show: What American high school students dressed like in 1969


When students (and teachers) turned on, tuned in, and dropped classes

by Chris Wild

Woodside High, California.


The latest rule in girls’ high school
fashion is that there isn’t any.

Left to right: Pam Pepin, Pat Auvenshine and Kim Robertson, at Corona del Mar High School in California.


Rooted in the the early 1960s “Beat Generation,” hippies were about freedom — of expression, of living and, of course, of love.

When it came to style, this meant individuality and customization over mass production: long hair for men, little makeup for women, bras optional. By 1967, a raft of publications and handbooks explained exactly how to dress like a hippie. Ruth Bronsteen’s “The Hippy’s Handbook” even included graphics on how to rock the look.

But in 1969, the year of these photographs, hippie fashion was evolving from counter culture to, well, culture. And young people were informing the change. Most of the students you see here are wearing off-the-shelf fashions — still recognizably hippie, but more homogenized.

Being a hippy was safe, but somehow not as free.

A Southern California high school student walks toward her classmates while wearing the “Mini Jupe” skirt.


Guess what, I might be the first hippie pinup girl.

High schooler Lenore Reday stops traffic while wearing a bell-bottomed jumpsuit, in Newport Beach, California.


Beverly High School classmates.


Southern California high school students wear hippie fashion, in California.


Southern California high school student wear Bermuda overalls.


Students of Woodside High wearing hippie fashion, such as ponchos, boots and sandals, in California.


High Schooler Nina Nalhaus wears wool pants and a homemade jacket at high school, in Denver, Colorado.


Beverly Hills high school student Erica Farber wears a checker and tiered outfit as she walks with a young man.


High school student band, in California.


High school student wears hippie fashion consisting of bell bottoms and boots.


High school student Rosemary Shoong.


Southern California high schooler wearing a buckskin vest.


High school student wearing an old-fashioned tapestry skirt and wool shawl.


High School teacher Sandy Brockman wearing a bold print hippie-style dress, in Denver, Colorado.


  • Research:Amanda Uren
  • Text andcuration:Chris Wild

HIWAY AMERICA -The Low Line, A Park in an Abandoned Manhattan Subway Station


The Low Line, A Park in an Abandoned Manhattan Subway Station

The Delancey Street Subway Low Line Park

The Delancey Street Subway Low Line Park

The Delancey Street Subway Low Line Park

The Delancey Underground project is a proposal to build a city park in the abandoned underground Delancey Street trolley terminal in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a “Low Line” to the city’s famous  High Line elevated park (see our photos of the High Line). The core of the proposal is a clever lighting system that would pipe sunlight down into the park with fiber optics and mirrors, allowing plants to grow underground. The Delancey Underground project is by architect James Ramsey of RAAD Studio, Dan Barasch of PopTech, and money manager R. Boykin Curry IV. See Inhabitat’s writeup on the project for more photos and info.

Here’s what the Delancey Street trolley terminal looks like now (after 60 years of disuse).

The Delancey Street Subway Low Line Park

via New York Magazine, Inhabitat New York City and

architectural renderings by The Delancey Underground project, photo by Danny Fuchs

Where Death Shaped the Beats


Where Death Shaped the Beats

John Cohen/Getty Images

The Beat writers, from left, Jack Kerouac, Lucien Carr and Allen Ginsberg in 1959. More Photos »

  • THE scene of the crime, Riverside Park at the foot of West 115th Street, is in full spring bloom, carpeted in the butter-colored flowers of lesser celandine. It was here 68 years ago, on a slope descending to the moonlit Hudson River, that Lucien Carr, 19, the Beat Generation’s charismatic, callow swami, buried a knife in the heart of David Kammerer, 33, his besotted, dauntless hometown stalker.

A map of the Columbia University area with key locations involved in David Kammerer’s death. More Photos »

Carr is often characterized as muse to the Beats, but he was more than that. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were acolytes, captivated by Carr’s profane rants about bourgeois culture and the path to transcendence through pure creative expression — his “New Vision,” after “A Vision” by Yeats.

Carr’s “honor slaying” of Kammerer, as The Daily News called it, served as an emotional fulcrum forthe group a decade before Kerouac, Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs published their seminal works; the violent death in their midst lent credibility to the tortured-soul narrative they yearned for.

Columbia University was critical to that narrative, and its Beaux-Arts campus is featured in a film now in production, “Kill Your Darlings,” starring Daniel Radcliffe as Ginsberg. The university stood as a kind of crucible for the Beats, who were emerging “like a wild seed in a city garden,” wrote the Beat historian Bill Morgan. Many of their haunts in Morningside Heights remain (all within a few blocks of the 116th Street subway station on Broadway), including the venerable dorms where they lived — Hartley and what is now Wallach. Any pilgrim’s archeological Beat tour, inspired by the movie or not, must begin with the university itself, a useful antagonist in the iconoclasts’ quest for artistic self-actualization.

“They all loved to feel they were sleeping in the camp of the enemy somehow,” said Ben Marcus, a novelist and associate professor at Columbia’s School of the Arts. “As much as universities should be cauldrons of creativity and breeding grounds for new creative activity, the Beats needed to feel that they were being stifled by forces at the university.”

They seemed to enjoy the idea, he added, “that these forces were straitjacketing them, whether it was true or not.”

“Kill Your Darlings,” from Killer Films, an independent production company, tells a version of the story that can also be found in “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks,” a roman à clef written in 1945 by Kerouac and Burroughs but unpublished until 2008. (The title was derived from an apocryphal story concerning a radio newscast about a zoo fire.) In addition to Mr. Radcliffe, shedding his Harry Potter guise to play Ginsberg, the film stars Michael C. Hall, the agreeable serial killer Dexter on Showtime, as Kammerer; Jack Huston, from HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” as Kerouac; and a relative unknown, Dane DeHaan, as Carr.

Kammerer’s pederastic interest in Carr began when Kammerer was Carr’s Boy Scout leader in St. Louis, where both came from privileged backgrounds, according to Mr. Morgan’s “I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg.”

Carr was a boy Aphrodite. In “Hippos” Kerouac called the Carr character “the kind of boy literary fags write sonnets to, which start out, ‘O raven-haired Grecian lad….’ ”

Kammerer, a whiskered redhead, taught physical education and English at Washington University. In about 1940, when Carr was 15, his mother, Marion, discovered a cache of “desperate” letters from the older man, according to James Campbell’s “This Is the Beat Generation.” She sent him to boarding school in Chicago, but Kammerer trailed him there — and then to Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.; Bowdoin College in Maine; and, finally, Columbia.

The Beats began to form during Carr’s first semester there. He and Ginsberg, a freshman from New Jersey, lived in an overflow dorm at the nearby Union Theological Seminary. At Christmastime in 1943, according to Mr. Campbell’s book, Ginsberg heard Brahms wafting from Carr’s room and knocked to find out who was listening to the music he loved. Ginsberg was smitten. In his journal, he called Carr his first love and “sweet vision.”

That winter Carr introduced Ginsberg to Kammerer and Burroughs, who had been schoolmates in St. Louis and were neighbors in Greenwich Village.

Kerouac, another Columbian, was ushered in a few months later when he met Carr at the West End, the saloon at 2911 Broadway, a 60-yard dash away from Columbia’s College Walk. (Kerouac initially found Carr to be pretentious and obnoxious, although he used a more vulgar description in “Vanity of Duluoz,” another of Kerouac’s gauzy autobiographical novels.)

By then Ginsberg and Carr were living at Lucien Carr  at 404 West 115th Street (now a parking lot). Kammerer was an occasional visitor, sometimes stealing in through the fire escape to watch Carr sleep, according to an often-repeated anecdote in Beat biographies, including Mr. Morgan’s “Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac’s City.” Kerouac stayed with his girlfriend, Edie Parker, in Apartment 62 at 421 West 118th Street, a plaster-frosted walkup off Amsterdam Avenue.

In August 1944 Kerouac and Carr schemed a Merchant Marine adventure to France, where — in the midst of war — they had an irrational plan to retrace the Paris footsteps of the 19th-century poet Arthur Rimbaud, whom Carr regarded as a doppelganger.

The plan fell apart on Aug. 13, when they got drunk and were late getting to their ship, and the men rued their broken dream that night at the West End (now called Havana Central at the West End). Kerouac left Carr at midnight and crossed paths on campus near St. Paul’s Chapel with Kammerer, Carr’s relentless birddog.

Kammerer asked his usual question: “Where’s Lucien?”

Kerouac sent him to the West End.

“And I watch him rush off to his death,” Kerouac wrote in “Duluoz.”

Kammerer and Carr left the bar at 3 a.m. New York was sweltering, and they toddled downhill to Riverside Park for cool air.

An account of the crime in The New York Times at the time explained that Kammerer made “an offensive proposal.” The article continued:

“Carr said that he rejected it indignantly and that a fight ensued. Carr, a slight youth, 5 feet 9 tall and weighing 140 pounds, was no match for the burly former physical education instructor, who was 6 feet tall and weighed about 185 pounds.”

“In desperation,” the account added, “Carr pulled out of his pocket his Boy Scout knife, a relic of his boyhood, and plunged the blade twice in rapid succession into Kammerer’s chest.”

Had Carr run to the police, he probably would have been hailed as a hero against a pervert. But he did something quite different.

He rolled the body to the river’s edge, bound the limbs with shoe laces, stuffed rocks in the pockets, and watched his longtime lurker sink.

Carr hurried to Greenwich Village and reported his deed to Burroughs, who advised him to tell the police he was the victim of a sex fiend. Instead Carr woke Kerouac, who recounted that eye-opener in “Duluoz”:

“Well,” Carr said, “I disposed of the old man last night.”

He didn’t seem nettled. As much as anything, Carr seemed satisfied, by all accounts, that he had finally done something noteworthy. The two men walked up West 118th Street to Morningside Park, where Carr buried Kammerer’s eyeglasses, which he had pocketed as evidence of his feat.

He and Kerouac traipsed about Manhattan, dropping the Boy Scout knife in a subway grate on 125th Street. They visited the Museum of Modern Art, a hot dog stand in Times Square and a cinema where they watched “The Four Feathers.”

Carr finally walked into the district attorney’s office and announced the killing. Prosecutors thought he was crazy — “the imaginings of an overstrained mind,” The Times wrote. Carr sat there reading Yeats, to the bewilderment of police officers and crime reporters.

The police were convinced only when Carr led them to the buried glasses the next day, at about the time Kammerer’s body bobbed up off West 108th Street.

A week after the killing Ginsberg wrote the poem “Hymn to the Virgin,” which hinted at a complex relationship. Written to Carr in Kammerer’s voice, it begins, “Thou who art afraid to have me, lest thou lose me.” (Two months after the death Ginsberg took an apartment at 627 West 115th Street, about a hundred paces from the death site.)

Carr pleaded guilty to manslaughter. A judge had mercy on “young, good-looking Lucien,” as The Times called him, and sent Carr to the Elmira Reformatory, not prison. (Burroughs and Kerouac were confined briefly as accessories. While he was jailed Kerouac was escorted by the police to his courthouse wedding with Parker, and the newlyweds later moved to another Morningside Heights Beat pad, at 419 West 115th Street.)

Carr returned to New York after 18 months away and joined United Press (later United Press International), beginning a 47-year career there. (He had three sons with his first wife, Francesca von Hartz, including the novelist Caleb Carr.) He remained close to Ginsberg and Kerouac, even as he tried to scrub himself from Beat history. He insisted that Ginsberg remove his name from the dedication of “Howl,” and the publication of “Hippos” waited until after Carr died in 2005.

An archive of letters and postcards to Carr at Columbia’s Butler Library shows that Kerouac and Ginsberg continued to solicit his approval long after they became famous writers — Ginsberg in intimate, lyrical letters and Kerouac in wisecracking postcards.

Yet in his journal (published in his “Book of Martyrdom and Artifice”) Ginsberg wrote of Carr: “He must prove that he is a genius. He cannot do so in creative labor — for he has not the patience, says he, nor the time, says he, nor the occasion, says he. None of these reasons is correct. He seems not to have the talent.”

Carr certainly was a talented editor. A 2003 history of United Press International called him “the soul of the news service.” He did not talk about his life among the Beats or his crime, and former colleagues say Carr would have been livid about “Kill Your Darlings.”

Joseph A. Gambardello, a longtime newspaper editor, was a protégé of Carr’s at U.P.I. in the mid-1970s, when the news service was based in the Daily News Building on East 42nd Street.

“When I met him he was a hard-drinking, hardworking journalist,” Mr. Gambardello said. “He did not come across as a pretentious jackass at all.” He added, “The person I had read about with Kerouac and Ginsberg didn’t exist anymore.”

Carr occasionally sent Mr. Gambardello to Louie’s East, an adjacent bar, to fetch a “Lou Carr Special” — a lot of vodka, a little Coke.

He had gotten over Rimbaud.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 11, 2012

An article on Friday about the 1944 killing of David Kammerer by the Beat Generation figure Lucien Carr misspelled the given name of Carr’s mother, who discovered “desperate” letters from Kammerer to her son, according to “This Is the Beat Generation” by James Campbell. She was Marion Gratz Carr, not Marian. And a correction in this space on Saturday misspelled the surname of one of the two authors of a screenplay, “Kill Your Darlings” that is based on the killing. He is John Krokidas, not Krokidis. (Austin Bunn is his co-writer.)

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 7, 2012

An article on Friday about the 1944 killing of David Kammerer by the Beat Generation figure Lucien Carr misidentified the source of a screenplay based on the killing. The screenplay, “Kill Your Darlings,” now in production, was written by John Krokidas and Austin Bunn. They did not adapt it from “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks,” a roman à clef written in 1945 by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs that tells a similar version of the killing.





Press Freedom at the Lowest Level in a Decade


Hover over a country below to view its press freedom score.*

Green = Free
Yellow = Partly Free
Purple = Not Free    

* Score out of 100. The lower the score, the better the press freedom status.

CLICK HERE for booklet.

Only 1 in 7 people live in a country with a ‘free’ press.

Global press freedom has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, according to the latest edition of Freedom House’s press freedom survey. The decline was driven in part by major regression in several Middle Eastern states, including Egypt, Libya, and Jordan; marked setbacks in Turkey, Ukraine, and a number of countries in East Africa; and deterioration in the relatively open media environment of the United States.

Freedom of the Press 2014 found that despite positive developments in a number of countries, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa, the dominant trends were reflected in setbacks in every other region.

  Press Release
  Press Release (Russian)
Map of Press Freedom
Overview Essay
Overview Essay (Russian)
  Charts and Graphs

Click on the second tab below for reports on individual countries and territories. Territories are identified with asterisks.

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