Tag Archives: ALLEN GINSBERG

Writers who partied: The myth of the lonesome author destroyed

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a bit of personal history about Dave Christy and my involvement in the small press

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Dave and Ana Christy

http://www.luver.com

http://vimeo.com/24508654

Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene
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Doug Holder

This blog consists of reviews, interviews, news, etc…from the world of the Boston area small press/ poetry scene and beyond. Regular contributors are reviewers: Barbara Bialick, Lawrence Kessenich, Lo Galluccio, Zvi Sesling, Irene Koronas, Rene Schwiesow, Dennis Daly, and others. Founder Doug Holder: dougholder@post.harvard.edu. * B A S P P S is listed in the New Pages Index of Alternative Literary Blogs.

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Showing posts with label Dave Christy founder of the Alpha Beat Press Has Passed Away Doug Holder. Show all posts
Monday, February 08, 2010

Dave Christy founder of the Alpha Beat Press Has Passed Away…

I received notice that Dave Christy founder of the Alpha Beat Press has passed away. The press was very prolific and influential in the little magazine and chapbook scene in the 80′s and 90′s. I had my first chap published by Dave Christy: “Poems of Boston and Just Beyond: From the Back Bay to the Back Ward” May he rest in peace.

From the website:

Alpha Beat Press has been publishing Beat Generation, post-Beat Independent and other modern writings since 1986. Alpha Beat Press had its beginnings in a Montreal flat with the idea of keeping the aesthetics and sensibilities of the Beat generation alive. Our first magazine, Alpha Beat Soup was unique, being the only small press magazine publishing original and current Beat writings. In our new magazine Bouillabaisse and in our other poetry publications we have continued in that tradition, publishing a wide variety of writers and styles, from Bukowski to the lesser known poets. Alpha Beat Press is certainly the best of the small press!

Past Contributors include: John Clellan Holmes, Charles Bukowski, Beatrice Wood, Allen Ginsberg, Diane DiPrima, Carolyn Cassady, Gary Snyder, Carl Solomon, Ken Kesey, Simon Vinkenoong, Kaviraj George Dowden, John Montgomery, Jack Kerouac, Ken Babbs, Bruce Fearing, Ray Bremser, Al Aronowitz, Ana Christy, Gerald Nicosia, Diane Wakowski, Bob Kaufman, Steve Richmond, Janine Pommy Vega, Antler, Herbert Huncke, Pradip Choudhuri, Jack Micheline, Gregory Corso, Joan Reid, Allen Cohen, Yusuke Keida, Barbara Moraff, A.D.Winans, Tuli Kupferberg, Richard Morris, George Montrgomery, Frank Moore, Erling Friis-Baastad, t.k.splake, ruth weiss, elliott, Ted Berrigan, Neeli Cherkovski, Clayton Eshleman, Gerald Locklin, Joy Walsh, Anne Waldman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Kurt Nimmo, Ron Androla, Graham Cournoyer, Bill Costley, Jan Kerouac, Jeanne Conn, Stephan Ronan, Christine Zwingman, Chris Challis, Lyn Lifshin, Ulvis Alberts, Lorrie Jackson, Tony Seldin, Judson Crews, Steve Allen, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady & Ted Joans.

Posted by Douglas Holder at 2:31 AM 4 comments:

Labels: Dave Christy founder of the Alpha Beat Press Has Passed Away Doug Holder

Review: COKEFISH ing IN ALPHA BEAT SOUP
A Beat-Post Beat Independent Poetry Broadsheet
January 2009

“Cokefish” or “Cokefishing” is a pretty unique publication in that it really is a broadsheet, printed on two sides of a giant piece of paper which arrived at my door (at least) folded in quarters, and set in a variety of types, largely because the type that each poem or letter (it features author letters too) was submitted in seems to have been copied directly onto the broadsheet. And this is a choice the editors Dave and Ana Christy are making: “This broadside is dedicated to the small press and the way it used to be,” reads the legend over the top of the first poems, next, in this issue, to a photocopied picture of the late, much lamented Dave Church, whose passing several poems and letters commemorate.

I like their style here. This is the sort of homemade, no-frills publication which sold me on the romance of the small press in the first place, when Bryn Fortey was doing something similar in Wales, though he folded his sheets in half and stapled them. Bryn introduced me, through his “Outlaw” magazine, to some of the best living poets, including (as he was) Church and t.kilgore splake; and Dave and Ana’s roster includes both of those old greybeard heroes, along with Steve Dalachinsky, whose work I found impossible to format for BEATNIK (sorry Steve) and Gundy, whose name I came across a few years ago and haven’t heard from for a while, during my own weird peregrinations around the literary world and in real unreality. It’s good to know that there are still some places where the way a magazine/ publication looks doesn’t matter and the way it reads does. Lately even Beat-influenced sites have gone for fancy production which has nothing to do with the original spirit of the writing.

You can track “Cokefish (ing)” down via Alpha Beat Press and Dave and Ana Christy at 806 E. Ridge Ave. Sellersville PA 18960 USA. And like I said, it’s a buck an issue, so remunerate the Christys accordingly.

Posted by Bruce Hodder at 2:26 AM

Sell on Amazon

Charles Bukowski and Alpha Beat Press 1988-1994 Paperback – January 1, 1994

by Dave and Ana Christy (Editor)

1 Collectible from $125.00

Can Man Says Goodnight on luver.com an internet weekly radio show

Join Dave & Ana for an hour of good talk, a lot of laughs and a lot of vodka! Reminiscent of the old radio show, THE BICKERSONS – The Christy’s add a special guest poet/musician along with a Country Classic tune and Ana’s “Pick Your Nose” of the week.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Can Man Says Goodnight #81

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Can Man Says Goodnight #80

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Can Man Says Goodnight #79

Download/listen to the show by clicking on the title.

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Can Man Says Goodnight #78

Download/listen to the show by clicking on the title.

DAVID AMRAM REMEMBERS JACK KEROUAC

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DAVID AMRAM REMEMBERS JACK KEROUAC

DavidAmram, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac
from left to right: Larry Rivers, Jack Kerouac,
David Amram, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso (with back to camera)

 

DAVID AMRAM REMEMBERS
(Originally written for Evergreen Review in 1969, published early 1970 at the request of publisher Barney Rossett as an obituary for Kerouac)

I used to see Jack often at the old Five Spot in the beginning of 1957, when I was working there. I knew he was a writer, and all musicians knew that he loved music. You could tell by the way he sat and listened. He never tried to seem hip. He was too interested in life around him to ever think of how he appeared. Musicians understood this and were always glad to see him, because we knew that meant at least one person would be I listening. Jack was on the same wave-length as we were, so it was never necessary to talk.

A few months later, poets Howard Hart and Philip Lamantia came by my place with Jack. They had decided to read their poetry with music, and Jack said he would join in, reading, improvising, rapping with the audience and singing along. Our first performance was in December of 1957 at the Brata Art Gallery on East 10th Street. It was the first jazz-poetry reading in New York. There was no advertising and it was raining, but the place was packed. Jack had become the most important figure of the time. His name was magic. In spite of the carping, whining put-downs by the furious critics, and the jealousy of some of his contemporaries for his overnight success (he had written ten books in addition to On The Road with almost no recognition), Jack hadn’t changed. But people’s reaction to him was sometimes frightening.

He was suddenly being billed as the ‘King of The Beatniks’, and manufactured against his will, as some kind of public Guru for a movement that never existed. Jack was a private person, extremely shy, and dedicated to writing. When he drank, he became much more expansive, and this was the only part of his personality that became publicized. The people who came to the Brata Gallery weren’t taste makers; they were friends.

A few months later, we began some readings at the Circle In The Square. Everyone improvised, including the light man, who had his first chance to wail on the lighting board. The audience joined in, heckling, requesting Jack to read parts of On The Road, and asking him to expound on anything that came into his head. He also would sing while I was playing the horn, sometimes making up verses. He had a phenomenal ear. It was like playing duets with a great musician.

Jack was proud of his knowledge of music and of the musicians of his time. He used to come by and play the piano by ear for hours. He had some wonderful ideas for combining the spoken word with music. A few weeks later, jazz-poetry became ‘Official Entertainment’, and a few months later was discarded as another bit of refuse, added to the huge mound of our junk culture. It was harder to dispose of Jack. The same journalist and radio and TV personalities who had heralded him were now ripping him to shreds. Fortunately, they couldn’t rip up his manuscripts. His work was being published, more widely read, and translated.

In early 1958, all of us went to Brooklyn College, where Jack, Phillip and Howard read. Jack spent most of the time answering the student’s questions with questions of his own. He was the down-home Zen master, and the students finally realized he wasn’t putting them on. He was showing them himself. If they wanted to meet the Author Jack Kerouac, they would have to read his books.

His public appearances were never to promote his books. They were to share a state of mind and a way of being. The only journalist who picked up on this was Al Aronowitz. He saw Jack as an artist.

In the spring of 1959, the film Pull My Daisy was made. Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Larry Rivers and myself – the Third Avenue All-Stars as one wit described us – appeared in it. Alfred Leslie directed it and Robert Frank filmed it. Jack had written the scenario, and after the film had been edited, Jack saw it. Because it was a silent movie, Jack was to narrate it, and I was to write the music afterwards. He, Allen, and Neal Cassady also wrote the lyrics for the title song Pull My Daisy, for which I wrote the music and was sung in the film by Anita Ellis. Jack put on earphones and asked me to play, so that he could improvise the narration to music, the way we had done at our readings. He watched the film, and made up the narration on the spot. He did it two times through spontaneously, and that was it. He refused to do it again. He believed in spontaneity, and the narration turned out to be the very best thing about the film. We recorded it at Jerry Newman’s studio. Jerry was an old friend of Jack’s from the early forties and afterwards we had a party-jam session that lasted all night. Jack played the piano, sang, and improvised for hours.

In the early sixties I used to see Jack when he would come in from Northport to visit town. Once, he called up at one in the morning and told me I had to come over so that he could tell me a story. I brought over some music to copy, and Jack spoke non-stop until 8:30 a.m., describing a trip he had made through North Africa and Europe. It was like hearing a whole book of his being read aloud, and Jack was the best reader of his own work, with the exception of Dylan Thomas, that I ever heard.

“That’s a fantastic story.” I told him. “It sounds just like your books.”

“I try to make my writing sound just the way I talk.” he said. His ideal was not to display his literary skill, but to have a conversation with the reader.

I told Jack about an idea I had for a cantata about the four seasons in America, using the works of American authors. He launched into a travelogue of his voyages around the country, and referred to writers I might look into. I took notes, and ended up reading nearly fifty books, to find the texts. I included a passage from his book Lonesome Traveler. The concert was at Town Hall [in New York City], and Jack wrote that he couldn’t come. It was the Spring of 1965, and he didn’t like being in New York.

Sometimes he would call from different parts of the country just to talk, and we continued to write to each other. In one letter he said “Ug-g-h. Fame is such a drag.” He wanted time to work, but found that success robbed him of his freedom. At the same time, he felt that he was forgotten. I told him that all the young people I met when I toured colleges loved his books. To many, he was their favorite writer. But writer meant something different now. It was what was being said, not how it was said. It was content that counted, not style. Jacks’ message was a whole way of being, and he was becoming more an influence than ever.

Truman Capote dismissed Jack’s work as “typing.” I never heard Jack put down another writer. He went out of his way to encourage young writers. His work reflects this spirit of generosity, kindness and love. This is why his “typing” is so meaningful to young people today. Jack was ahead of his time spiritually. Like Charlie Parker, Lenny Bruce and Lord Buckley, his work is constantly being rediscovered.

Through knowing Jack, I wrote some of my best music. Without knowing him, I never would have written my book. More important, young people all over the world are reading and rereading his work. His death only means the beginning of a new life for everyone who shares in the joy of knowing him through his books.

David Amram, October 24th. 1969

I Have Nothing to Offer Anybody-Jack Kerouac

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I Have Nothing to Offer Anybody

Jean-Louis “Jack” Lebris de Kerouac (play /ˈkɛruːæk/ or /ˈkɛrɵæk/; March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.  Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. His writings have inspired other writers, including Ken Kesey, Bob Dylan, Eddie Vedder, Richard Brautigan, Thomas Pynchon, Lester Bangs, Tom Robbins and Will Clarke.  Kerouac became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the Hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward it. In 1969, at age 47, Kerouac died from internal bleeding due to long-standing abuse of alcohol. Since his death Kerouac’s literary prestige has grown and several previously unseen works have been published. All of his books are in print today, among them: On the Road, Doctor Sax, The Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody and Big Sur.

Video of the Day: A Short Documentary About the Original Beatniks

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Video of the Day: A Short Documentary About the Original Beatniks

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Video  of the Day: A Short Documentary About the Original Beatniks

If the only Beat Generation writers you can name are Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs, then it’s time to educate yourself about the rest of the gang. A great place to start is Original Beats, a short documentary by Francois Bernadi that we learned about thanks to Dangerous Minds. The film, shot in the mid-’90s, follows Herbert Huncke and Gregory Corso — the oldest and youngest member, respectively, of the Beat inner circle. In fact, while Corso’s work may be more famous, Huncke was hugely influential to the movement, introducing the major players to (’50s) hipster culture and even coining the term “Beat.” (Sadly, he was also a lifelong junkie who spent his last years in poverty; Jonathan Lethem recently wrote a New Yorker piece about the time he caught Huncke shoplifting at the bookstore where he worked as a high schooler.)

The documentary offers an entertaining look at the origins of the Beat movement, as well as some readings, and a number of epic anecdotes from Huncke and Corso, from Huncke’s first glimpse of Times Square to both men’s stints in prison. One of Corso’s stories, about a time when he and Allen Ginsberg read in Chicago, ends with this wonderful moment: “One of the people in the audience said, ‘Mr. Ginsberg, why is there so much homosexuality in your poetry?’ And Allen said, ‘Because I’m queer, madam!’” Enjoy Original Beats after the jump.

A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE BEATS

Beat Quotes

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Beat Quotes

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Beat Quotes

This is a good sized list of quotes by or pertaining to a beat author. Some of them are very deep, some of them all funny, and some make no sense whatsoever. Enjoy.


“There is no line between the ‘real world’ and ‘world of myth and symbol.’ Objects, sensations, hit with the impact of hallucination.”
-William Burroughs

“I’m running out of everything now. Out of veins, out of money.”
-William Burroughs

“Strip your psyche to the bare bones of spontaneous process, and you give yourself one chance in a thousand to make the Pass.”
-William Burroughs

“The charging restless mute unvoiced road keening in a seizure of tarpaulin power.”
-Jack Kerouac’s favorite line from On The Road

“Rather, I think one should write, as nearly as possible, as if he were the first person on earth and was humbly and sincerly putting on paper that which he saw and experienced and loved and lost; what his passing thoughts were and his sorrows and desires.”
-Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac

“Americans should know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.”
-Walt Whitman

“Neal, we’ll be real heroes now in a war between our cocks and time: let’s be the angels of the world’s desire and take the world to bed with us before we die.”
-Allen Ginsberg to Cassady on their sexual relation…lines from the poem The Green Automobile

“If you have a choice of two things and can’t decide, take both.” -Gregory Corso “The stone world came to me, and said Flesh gives you an hour’s life.”
-Gregory Corso

“If you believe you’re a poet, then you’re saved.”
-Gregory Corso

“In such places as Greenwich Village, a menage-a-trois was completed- the bohemian and the juvenile delinquent came face-to-face with the Negro, and the hipster was a fact in American life.”
-Norman Mailer

“Madness is confusion of levels of fact…Madness is not seeing visions but confusing levels.”
-William Burroughs

“I really believe, or want to believe, really I am nuts, otherwise I’ll never be sane.”
-Allen Ginsberg to Jack Kerouac

“Sure I’m old, and I’m evil, and I’m ugly, and I’m tired. But that isn’t it. I’ve been this way for ten years, and I’m all down the main line.”
-Herbert Huncke to Allen GInsberg

“Neal will leave you in the cold anytime it’s in his interest.”
-LuAnne Cassady (the 15 year old bride of Neal Cassady)

“Oh, smell the people!’ yelled Dean with his face out the window, sniffling. ‘Ah, God! Life!’”
-Jack Kerouac, On The Road

“Obviously the ‘purpose’ of the trip is carefully selected to symbolize the basic fact of purposelessness. Neal is, of course, the very soul of the voyage into pure, abstract meaningless motion. He is The Mover, compulsive, dedicated, ready to sacrifice family, friends, even his very car itself to the necessity of moving from one place to another.”
-William Burroughs to Allen Ginsberg on Neal and his skeptical views of the man and voyage which spurred On The Road

“Love is all.’
-Jack Kerouac

“I went with him for no reason.”
-Jack Kerouac on Neal Cassady

“What’s your road, man? -holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow.”
-Neal Cassady as Dean Moriarty in On The Road

“Who are all these strange ghosts rooted to the silly little adventure of earth with me?”
-Jack Kerouac, on the final gathering/Snyders going away party

“The omlet fell apart, as with such eggs it must.”
-Wilifrid Sheed, on the San Francisco Renaissance Poets

“I am getting so far out one day I won’t come back at all.”
-William Burroughs

“Ginsby boy, he’s all over Oregon like horseshit howling his dirty pome.”
-Jack Kerouac on Allen Ginsberg

“I am beginning to think he is a great saint, a great saint concealed in a veneer of daemonism.”
-Jack Kerouac on Allen Ginsberg

“We are all trying to get the exact style of ouuselves.”
-Michael McClure on the San Francisco Renaissance

“To rebel! That is the immediate objective of poets! We can not wait and will not be held back…The “poetic marvelous” and the unconscious are the true inspirers of rebels and poets.”
-Philip Lamantia

“Around Jack there circulated a palpable aura of fame and death.”
-Gary Snyder on Jack Kerouac

“I want to create wilderness out of empire.”
-Gary Snyder

“I’m beat to the square, and square to the beat, and that’s my vocation.”
-William Everson aka Brother Antoninus

“We had gone beyond a point of no return- and we were ready for it, for a point of no return…We wanted voice and we wanted vision.”
-Michael McClure

“A reading is a kind of communion. The poet articulates the semi-known for the tribe.
-Gary Snyder

“I want your lingual SPONTINEITY or nothing else.”
-Jack Kerouac to Allen Ginsberg after reading Howl

“An army is an army against love.”
-Peter Orlovsky

“At that instant we looked into eachother’s eyes and there was a kind of celestial cold fire that crept over us and blazed up and illuminated the entire cafeteria and made it an eternal place.”
-Allen Ginsberg to William Burroughs on his new lover Peter Orlovsky

“I’ve been getting silly drunk again lately in Remo and discusting myself a la Subterraneans.”
-Jack Kerouac to William Burroughs

Jack Kerouac’s Translations of Buddhist Terms
Dharma: “truth law”
Nirvana: “blown-out-ness”
Tathata: “that which everything is”
Tathagata: “attainer to that which everything is”
Bodhisattva-Manasattvas: “beings of great wisdom”

“Kerouac’s version of Buddha is a dimestore incense burner, glowing and glowering sinisterly in the dark corner of a Beatnik pad and just thrilling the wits out of bad little girls.”
-Kenneth Rexroth

“I miss you so much your absence causes me, at times, accute pain. I don’t mean sexually. I mean in connection with my writing.”
-William Burroughs to Allen Ginsberg

“I did no think I was hooked on him like this. The withdrawl symptoms are worse than the Marker habit. Tell Allen I plead guilty to vampirism and other crimes against life. But I love him and nothing else cancels love.”
-William Burroughs to Jack Kerouac on Ginsberg

“I have a strange feeling here of being outside any social context.”
-William Burroughs in Tangiers

“Not that Irwin wasn’t worthy of him but how on earth could they consumate this great romantic love with vaseline and K.Y.?”
-Jack Kerouac on Ginsberg and Burroughs relationship

“Between incomprehensible and incoherent sits the madhouse. I am not in the madhouse.”
-Jack Kerouac to Carl Solomon.

“I think all writers write for an audience. There is no such thing as writing for yourself.”
-William Burroughs to Allen Ginsberg

“Usually he selected someone who could not reciprocate so that he was able-cautiously, like one who tests uncertain ice, though in this case the danger was not that the ice give way but that it might hold his weight-to shift the burden of not loving, of being unable to love, onto the partner.”
-Willam Burroughs on himself

“Avoid the world, it’s just a lot of dust and drag and means nothing in the end.”
-Jack Kerouac

“Al, I am a fucking saint, that is I been fucked by the Holy Ghost and knocked up with Immaculate Woid…I’m the third coming, me, and don’t know if I can do it again….so stand by for the Revelation.”
-William Burroughs to Allen Ginsberg

“Suffice to say I just eat every 12 hours, sleep every 20 hours, masturbate every 8 hours and otherwise just sit on the train and stare ahead without a thought…”
-Neal Cassady

“Wherever I go I see myself in a mirror- it used to be my own selfblood, now it is god’s.”
-Allen Ginsberg

“Never deny the voice- no, never forget it, don’t get lost mentally wandering in other spirit worlds or American or job worlds or advertising worlds or earth worlds.”
-Allen Ginsberg’s vow to himself

“I want to be a saint, a real saint while I am young, for there is so much work to do.”
-Allen Ginsberg to Mark Van Doren

“The apparition of an evil, sick unconscious wild city rose before me in visible semblance, and about the dead buildings in the barren air, the bodies of the soul that built the wonderland shuffled and stalked and stalked and lurched in attitudes of immemorial nightmare all around.”
-Allen Ginsberg (his visions after reading Blake)

“I was so sick that I found myself worrying about the future of man’s soul, my own in paticular.”
-Allen Ginsberg

“Just a little boy who wants to be a novelist.”
-Alan Ansen’s description of Jack Kerouac

“Death hovers over my pencil…”
-Jack Kerouac

Pinned to Jack Kerouac’s wall to inspire his writing: “Art is the highest task and the proper metaphysical activity of this life.”
-Nietzsche

“I am going to marry my novels and have little short stories for children.”
-Jack Kerouac

“The fact was I had the vision…I think everyone has…what we lack is the method.”
-Jack Kerouac to Allen Ginsberg

“I detest limitations of any kind, and intend to establish my ass some place where I am a virgin on the police blotter.”
-William Burroughs to Allen Ginsberg

“Naturally, I thought the guy was just kiddin.”
-Herbert Huncke, on Burrough’s request for a Viennese waltz

“Shooting is my principal pastime.”
-William Burroughs

“My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.”
-Jack Kerouac to Neal Cassady

“Two piercing eyes glancing into two piercing eyes- the holy con-man with the shining mind, and the sorrowful poetic con-man with the dark mind.”
-Kerouac on the night Ginsberg and Cassady met

“I really dont know how much I can be be satisfied to love you, I mean bodily, you know, I somehow dislike pricks & men & before you, had conciously forced myself to be homosexual…I dont want to be unconsciously insincere by passing over my non-queerness to please you.”
-Neal Cassady to Allen Ginsberg on their sexual relationship

“Dont you remember how you made me stop trembling in shame and drew me to you? Don’t you know what I felt then, as if you were a saint…?”
-Allen Ginsberg to Neal Cassady

“Neal is awareness, mine is conciousness. The conciousness is shallow, awareness is all embracing.”
-Allen Ginsberg on Neal Cassady

“He came to the door stark naked and it might have been the President knocking for all he cared. He received the world in the raw.”
-Jack Kerouac on Neal Cassady

“I have thought of Neal as being a psychopath for quite some time. To me he is nothing more than a series of incidents.”
-John Clellon Holmes to Ginsberg

“I see no greatness in my self…I’m a simple-minded, child-like, insipid sort of moronic and kind of akward feeling adolescent.”
-Neal Cassady on himself

“I became the unnatural son of a few score of beaten men.”
-Neal Cassady

“For Neal sex was the one and only holy and important thing in life.”
-Jack Kerouac on Neal Cassady

“Cassady was sexually initiated at the age of nine. He accompanied his father to the home of a drinking buddy, whose oldest son led his brother and Neal in sexual intercourse with as many sisters as they could hold down. All boundaries of sexual decorum evaporated. Neal “sneak shared” women with his father, he slept with grandmothers and prepubescent girls in abandoned buildings, barns, and public toilets.”
-Steven Watson, Birth of the Beat Generation

“I alone, as the sharer of their way of life, presented a replica of childhood.”
-Neal Cassady

Email: haesuse@aol.com

THE BEAT GENERATION

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THE BEAT GENERATION

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THE LAST GATHERING OF BEATS POETS & ARTISTS

THE LAST GATHERING OF BEATS POETS & ARTISTS, CITY LIGHTS BOOKS North Beach, San Francisco 1965

Lawrence Ferlinghetti wanted to document the 1965 Beat scene in San Francisco in the spirit of the early 20th century classic photographs of the Bohemian artists & writers in Paris.The Beats, front row L to R: Robert LaVigne, Shig Murao, Larry Fagin, Leland Meyezove (lying down), Lew Welch, Peter Orlovsky.

Second row: David Meltzer, Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Daniel Langton, Steve (friend of Ginsberg), Richard Brautigan, Gary Goodrow, Nemi Frost.

Back row: Stella Levy, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Because this is a vertical image about half of the Beats attending are not shown.

Allen Ginsberg, Bob Donlon (Rob Donnelly, Kerouac’s Desolation Angels), Neal Cassady, myself in black corduroy jacket, Bay Area poets’ “Court Painter” Robert La Vigne & poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in front of his City Lights Books shop, Broadway & Columbus Avenue North Beach. Donlon worked seasonally as Las Vegas waiter & oft drank with Jack K., Neal looks good in tee shirt, Howl first printing hadn’t arrived from England yet (500 copies), we were just hanging around, Peter Orlovsky stepped back off curb & snapped shot, San Francisco spring 1956, 1956, gelatin silver print, printed 1984–97, 11 1/8 x 16 3/4 in. (28.3 x 42.6 cm), National Gallery of Art, Gift of Gary S. Davis. © 2012 The Allen Ginsberg LLC. All rights reserved.

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“He looked by that time like his father, red-faced corpulent W.C. Fields shuddering with mortal horror…” Thus reads the inscription of a photo depicting American icon Jack Kerouac and taken by Allen Ginsberg in 1964 — just a few years before the former’s death. Far from the exuberant youth depicted in earlier photos, this portrait offers an entirely different image of Kerouac: that of the aging alcoholic, slumped dejectedly in a battered armchair.

Beat Memories presents an in-depth look at the Beat Generation  as seen through the lens of Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997). Although well known for his poetry, Ginsberg was also an avid photo- grapher, capturing the people and places around him in spontaneous, often intimate snapshots. His black-and-white photographs include portraits of William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, and others, along with self-portraits. The images not only are revealing portrayals of celebrated personalities, but also convey the unique lifestyle and spirit of the Beats

The Beat movement, also called Beat Generation, American social and literary movement originating in the 1950s and centred in the bohemian artist communities of San Francisco’s North Beach, Los Angeles’ Venice West, and New York City’s Greenwich Village. Its adherents, self-styled as “beat” (originally meaning “weary,” but later also connoting a musical sense, a “beatific” spirituality, and other meanings) and derisively called “beatniks,” expressed their alienation from conventional, or “square,” society by adopting an almost uniform style of seedy dress, manners, and “hip” vocabulary borrowed from jazz musicians. Generally apolitical and indifferent to social problems, they advocated personal release, purification, and illumination through the heightened sensory awareness that might be induced by drugs, jazz, sex, or the disciplines of Zen Buddhism. Apologists for the Beats, among them Paul Goodman, found the joylessness and purposelessness of modern society sufficient justification for both withdrawal and protest.

Beat poets sought to liberate poetry from academic preciosity and bring it “back to the streets.” They read their poetry, sometimes to the accompaniment of progressive jazz, in such Beat strongholds as the Coexistence Bagel Shop and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights bookstore in San Francisco. The verse was frequently chaotic and liberally sprinkled with obscenities but was sometimes, as in the case of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), ruggedly powerful and moving. Ginsberg and other major figures of the movement, such as the novelist Jack Kerouac, advocated a kind of free, unstructured composition in which the writer put down his thoughts and feelings without plan or revision—to convey the immediacy of experience—an approach that led to the production of much undisciplined and incoherent verbiage on the part of their imitators. By about 1960, when the faddish notoriety of the movement had begun to fade, it had produced a number of interesting and promising writers, including Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Philip Whalen, and Gary Snyder, and had paved the way for acceptance of other unorthodox and previously ignored writers, such as the Black Mountain poets and the novelist William Burroughs.

In January 1949, Jack Kerouac failed to appear for an afternoon date with a woman called Pauline

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In January 1949, Jack Kerouac failed to appear for an afternoon date with a woman called Pauline

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Road Ready

‘The Voice Is All,’ by Joyce Johnson

By  JAMES CAMPBELL
Published: January 18, 2013    

In January 1949, Jack Kerouac failed to appear for an afternoon date with a woman called Pauline. He had told Allen Ginsberg he planned to marry her — “the finest woman I’ll ever know” — once she had unshackled herself from her truck-driver husband, who, according to Joyce Johnson, was accustomed to “slapping her around to keep her in line.” In the meantime, Kerouac began an affair with Adele Morales (later to become the second Mrs. Norman Mailer). His failure to keep the rendezvous with Pauline, however, had nothing to do with affection for Adele; rather, he had overslept after a night of sex games with Luanne Henderson, whom Jack’s muse Neal Cassady had married when she was 15, and who, according to their friend Hal Chase, was “quite easy to get . . . into bed.” The tryst had been engineered by Cassady, who was hoping to watch, Johnson says, to show Luanne, by then 18, “how little she meant to him.” Two days later, Kerouac called on Ginsberg and found Luanne “covered with bruises from a beating Neal had given her.” Johnson describes Kerouac as “shocked” by the sight; nevertheless, “they all went out to hear bebop,” partly financed by money stolen by Cassady. In response to being jilted, Pauline confessed her affair to her husband, who tried to burn her on the stove. Kerouac described her in his journal as a “whore.” All the while, Ginsberg can be heard in the background: “How did we get here, angels?”

Collection of Allen Ginsberg, via Sotheby’s

Jack Kerouac in his Columbia University football uniform, 1940s.

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THE VOICE IS ALL

The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac

By Joyce Johnson

489 pp. Viking. $32.95.

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This is an everyday story of the Beat Generation in late-1940s New York, a tale of crazy mixed-up kids who took a lot of drugs, dabbled in criminality — with two homicides among the statistics — lapsed into madness, were fond of identifying one another as “saints, saints,” but often had the barest notion of what it means to respect the individuality of other human beings. Yet three members of the inner circle, Kerouac, Ginsberg and William Burroughs, created experimental literary works of remarkable originality — in particular, “On the Road,” “Kaddish” and “Naked Lunch” — which read as freshly today as they did 50 years ago; perhaps, in an instance of that trick that the best art sometimes plays on us, more so.

Kerouac certainly makes a good subject, but there already exist about a dozen biographies (by Ann Charters, Barry Miles, Gerald Nicosia, among others), not to mention memoirs, an oral history — the excellent “Jack’s Book” (1978) — and wider surveys of the Beat Generation. In “Minor Characters” (1983), Johnson wrote about her affair with Kerouac at the time of publication of “On the Road.” She now steps back to a period of Kerouac’s life with which she has no direct acquaintance, tracing the story from his origins in a French Canadian family in Lowell, Mass., to New York in 1951, where the book ends with a rare citation from ­Kerouac’s journals: “I’m lost, but my work is found.”

Johnson justifies the retelling of what is in outline a familiar tale by the fact of having gained access to the vast Kerouac archive, “deposited in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library in 2002.” So far, so good. No large-scale Kerouac biography, so far as I am aware (“The Voice Is All” lacks a bibliography), has appeared since that date. Unfortunately, Johnson was apparently refused permission to quote at length from the journals and working drafts among Kerouac’s papers. The result is a life in paraphrase.

The method gives rise to frustration. In 1945, for example, Kerouac began writing a novel called “I Wish I Were You,” a reworking of the story of the killing of David Kammerer by Lucien Carr in 1944. Together, Kerouac and Burroughs had previously written “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks,” a collaboration on the same subject that eventually saw the light of day in 2008. According to Johnson, “I Wish I Were You” is a different beast: “In two successive drafts of the first 100 pages, Jack put in all the textural detail that had been left out of ‘Hippos’ and even returned with renewed confidence to the lyricism he had abandoned just the year before. It was really quite brilliant, the best prose he had written so far

Jazz and the Beat Generation

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Jazz and the Beat Generation

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Jazz and the Beat Generation
As the Beat movement was getting underway, bebop was already going strong, especially in New York City, where 52nd Street was bustling with activity in jazz clubs up and down its length. Bebop was an innovative style of jazz which saw its heyday in the ’40s, characterized by smaller combos as opposed to big bands and a larger focus on virtuosity. Bebop’s renaissance came about in the heart of New York City, where musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Max Roach and Miles Davis were ushering in a new era for jazz music.
Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and friends spent much of their time in New York clubs such as the Red Drum, Minton’s, the Open Door and other hangouts, shooting the breeze and digging the music. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis rapidly became what Allen Ginsberg dubbed “Secret Heroes” to this group of aesthetes.

Why did jazz suddenly become such a driving force behind the writings of the Beat authors? What similarities can we find between jazz musicians and the Beats? Perhaps the most obvious comparison we can make is indicated by the very word “beat.”

“The word ‘beat’ was primarily in use after World War II by jazz musicians and hustlers as a slang term meaning down and out, or poor and exhausted”. Kerouac went on to twist the meaning of the term “beat” to serve his own purposes, explaining that it meant “beatitude, not beat up. You feel this. You feel it in a beat, in jazz real cool jazz”.

The Beat authors borrowed many other terms from the jazz/hipster slang of the ’40s, peppering their works with words such as “square,” “cats,” “nowhere,” and “dig.” But jazz meant much more than just a vocabulary to the Beat writers. To them, jazz was a way of life, a completely different way to approach the creative process. In his book ‘Venice West’, John Arthur Maynard writes:

Jazz served as the ultimate point of reference, even though, or perhaps even because, few among them played it. From it they adopted the mythos of the brooding, tortured, solitary artist, performing with others but always alone. They talked the talk of jazz, built communal rites around using the jazzman’s drugs, and worshipped the dead jazz musicians most fervently. The musician whose music was fatal represented pure spontaneity.
In his only successful book, ‘Go’, Beat author John Clellon Holmes wrote:
In this modern jazz, they heard something rebel and nameless that spoke for them, and their lives knew a gospel for the first time. It was more than a music; it became an attitude toward life, a way of walking, a language and a costume; and these introverted kids… now felt somewhere at last.
Perhaps the best model to explain the artistic ideals of both the jazz musicians and the Beat writers would be the late 19th-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Rimbaud’s attitudes towards the artist’s duty to create was quite similar to that of the jazz musician and the typical Beat poet (though it is likely that the Beat poet would purposefully imitate Rimbaud while the jazz musician would be unaware of any similarities).
Rimbaud drank heavily, wrote poetry at a young age, and “burned out” much like a number of drug-using jazz musicians. Rimbaud’s dedication to his art was so fervent that, around the age of 21, he arrived at the point where he could do no more. Beats claimed Rimbaud as another “Secret Hero,” much like Parker or Davis. The “Rimbaud complex” was an attitude that both the jazz musicians and the Beats shared.

Many Beats used heroin, Benzedrine and other drugs in adulation of the jazz musicians which used them, hoping that the drugs would do for them what they supposedly did for greats like Parker. Kerouac wrote his most famous book On the Road, frequently heralded as the definitive prose work of the Beat era, on a three-day stretch fueled by a Benzedrine binge. William S. Burroughs used his dependency on heroin as an inspiration for books such as Junky and Naked Lunch.

Not only did the Beats foolhardily try to emulate the ways of life of bebop greats, they used the principal ideas of bebop playing and applied it to prose and poetry writing, creating a style sometimes called “bop prosody.” Beat prose, especially that of Jack Kerouac, is characterized by a style submerged in the stream of consciousness, words blurted out in vigorous bursts, rarely revised and often sparsely punctuated for lines and lines. “No periods… but the vigorous space dash separating rhetorical breathing (as jazz musician drawing breath between outblown phrases)” wrote Jack Kerouac in his “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose,” one of the few pieces he wrote which explained his method of writing. In a 1968 interview with Michael Aldrich, Ginsberg said:

Yeah. Kerouac learned his line from–directly from Charlie Parker, and Gillespie, and Monk. He was listening in ’43 to Symphony Sid and listening to “Night in Tunisia” and all the Bird-flight-noted things which he then adapted to prose line.
One of the governing maxims of the Beat style of writing was expressed by Allen Ginsberg when he paraphrased an old Zen Buddhist philosophy in his words, “First thought, best thought.” Ginsberg called this improvisational technique applied to writing “composing on the tongue,” and it was used in one way or another by many of the Beat writers. Gregory Corso wrote a poem about the sun which was entirely spontaneous. “Sun hypnotic! holy all protracted long and sure! firey goblet! day-babble!”, and so forth.
The rhythm, meter and length of verse was also distinctly more similar to jazz music than it was to traditionally European styles. Ted Joans, a poet and friend of the Beat authors, once said, “I could see that [Ginsberg] was picking up the language and rhythm of jazz, that he wasn’t following the European tradition”. Ginsberg fancied himself a poet in the style of a bebop musician because he lengthened the poetic line to fit the length of his own breath, paused for air, and launched another line, sometimes starting with the same word as the last line. Jazz music is distinct in its stressing of the second and fourth beats, as in traditional African music, as opposed to the stressing of the first and third beats, as in Western music. Beat poetry frequently has a much looser, more syncopated rhythm, similar to jazz.

This technique is perhaps best exemplified in Ginsberg’s classic poem ‘Howl’, which was to Beat poetry what Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ was to Beat prose. “I depended on the word ‘who’ to keep the beat, a base to keep measure, return to and take off again onto another streak of invention,” Ginsberg said in a 1959 essay about his approach to poetry. The verbal technique of ‘Howl’ can easily be compared to a Charlie Parker song, in which Parker plays a series of improvisational phrases upon the same theme, pausing for breath and starting another. But Ginsberg said, “Lester Young, actually, is what I was thinking about… ‘Howl’ is all “Lester Leaps In.” And I got that from Kerouac. Or paid attention to it on account of Kerouac, surely–he made me listen to it”.

Perhaps the Beat who felt the strongest racial empathy with the jazz world was Leroi Jones, who later changed his name to Amiri Baraka. Baraka was a very different sort of Beat poet, and he was never a big part of the previously discussed group of core writers. Baraka was primarly set apart from the other Beats due to his attitudes derived from his African-American heritage. Most of the Beat authors were white. Baraka used his race as the fuel for much of his poetry, and he was very extreme in his political and racial viewpoints.

In his poetry, Baraka achieved levels perhaps closest to the goals of jazz musicians, especially John Coltrane, whom Baraka admired deeply. Baraka even contributed writing to the liner notes of a recent Coltrane anthology, using elements of scat to write lines such as “aggeeewheeeuheageeeee.aeeegeheooouaaaa”. Baraka took note of Coltrane’s “inversions” of tunes written by whites, such as “My Favorite Things,” and their transformations in works such as Jack Kerouac’s ‘Desolation Angels’ or ‘On the Road’.

Kerouac was particularly into the bop scene, even outside of his works. In his book ‘Milestones: The Music and Times of Miles Davis’, Jack Chambers writes:

Kerouac was even booked into the Village Vanguard to “play” regular sets, reading poetry with jazz accompaniment… on his better nights, he dispensed with the poetry and took up scat singing, including a faithful rendering of a Miles Davis solo that… “was entirely accurate and something more than a simple imitation.”
According to Ted Joans, Kerouac “knew lots of jazz musicians”, and befriended musicians such as Zoot Sims, Al Cohn and Brue Moore.
As Ginsberg said that ‘Howl’ was all “Lester Leaps In,” Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ was partially inspired by Dexter Gordon’s and Wendell Gray’s “The Hunt”. From ‘On the Road’:

[Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady) stands] bowed before the big phonograph listening to a wild bop record… “The Hunt,” with Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray blowing their tops before a screaming audience that gave the record fantastic frenzied volume.
Kerouac even tackles the role of jazz historian in another part of ‘On the Road’. Triggered by a jazz club performance in Chicago, Kerouac launches into this ambitious paragraph:
Once there was Louis Armstrong blowing his beautiful top in the muds of New Orleans; before him the mad musicians who had paraded on official days and broke up their Sousa marches into ragtime. Then there was swing, and Roy Eldridge, vigorous and virile, blasting the horn for everything it had in waves of power and subtlety–leaning to it with glittering eyes and a lovely smile and sending it out broadcast to rock the jazz world. Then had come Charlie Parker, a kid in his mother’s woodshed in Kansas City, blowing his taped-up alto among the logs, practicing on rainy days, coming out to watch the old swinging Basie and Benny Moten band that had Hot Lips Page and the rest Charlie Parker leaving home and coming to Harlem, and meeting mad Thelonious Monk and madder Gillespie–Charlie Parker in his early days when he was flipped and walked around in a circle while playing. Somewhat younger than Lester Young, also from KC, that gloomy, saintly goof in whom the history of jazz was wrapped; for when he held his horn high and horizontal from his mouth he blew the greatest; and as his hair grew longer and he got lazier and stretched-out, his horn came down halfway; till it finally fell all the way and today as he wears his thick-soled shoes so that he can’t feel the sidewalks of life his horn is held weakly against his chest, and he blows cool and easy getout phrases. Here were the children of the American bop night.
Kerouac was also a poet, and he used his poetic abilities to eulogize Charlie Parker upon his death in his book of poetry Mexico City Blues. Choruses 239 to 241 are dedicated to Parker.
Charlie Parker looked like Buddha
Charlie Parker, who recently died…
“Wail, Wop” Charlie burst
His lungs to reach the speed
Of what the speedsters wanted
And what they wanted
Was his eternal Slowdown.
New York beat Gregory Corso similarly eulogized Bird upon his death in a poem called “Requiem for ‘Bird’ Parker, Musician,” published in his 1955 book ‘The Vestal Lady on Brattle’.
first voice
hey, man, BIRD is dead
they got his horn locked up somewhere
put his horn in a corner somewhere
like where’s the horn, man, where?

second voice

screw the horn
like where’s BIRD?
Corso’s 1958 book ‘Gasoline’ also contains a poem entitled “For Miles.”
Poet whose sound is played
lost or recorded
but heard
can you recall that 54 night at the Open Door
when you & bird
wailed five in the morning some wondrous
yet unimaginable score? (Corso, 50)
But of all the Beats, it is probably John Clellon Holmes who admired jazz musicians the most. He dedicated an entire book to the story of a down-and-out tenor sax player named Edgar Pool, entitled ‘The Horn’. Holmes also extrapolated an incredible amount of meaning from the aforementioned Dexter Gordon song, “The Hunt,” saying “listen there for the anthem in which we jettisoned the intellectual Dixieland of atheism, rationalism, liberalism–and found our group’s rebel streak at last”. Holmes’ ‘Go’ is full of religious imagery linked to jazz; his use of words such as “testament,” “sacrament,” “holy,” “mystery,” “prophecy,” “ritual” and “altar” assign a divine quality to jazz.
All of this is rather ironic when we read a journal entry of Holmes’, written on December 15, 1948:

As far as bop: I have stayed up very late with Jack [Kerouac], listening to Symphony Sid (“the all-night, all-frantic one”), who plays six solid hours of bop “at your request and in our groove.” I’m still puzzled by it as music, although I hear plenty of fine things in Dizzy and Parker, and there is no doubt in my mind that it is a…response to this post-war period.
Not only does Holmes seem not to “get it,” he incorrectly dubs bebop a “reaction,” when in fact it slowly evolved from late swing and transition period jazz. Still, Holmes was undeniably influenced by the bebop musicians.
West Coast poets were so influenced by the jazz movement that they made radical strides in synthesizing the two for the sake of live performances. The two primary poets responsible for this movement were Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Rexroth, who attempted to liberate poetry from the clutches of the academics “who wouldn’t know poetry if it came up and buggered them in broad daylight” in Ginsberg’s words. Incorporating jazz, they believed, would attract a wider audience and bring poetry down to the level of the average jazz-club patron.

Many of these poems were recited with jazz accompaniment at the Cellar, San Francisco’s foremost jazz club. The results were tape recorded and released on the Fantasy jazz label, with the music of an ensemble comprised of tenor saxophonist Bruce Lippincott, drummer Sonny Wayne, pianist Bill Weisjahns, bassists Jerry Goode and Bob Lewis, and trumpeter Dickie Mills. Rexroth performed his 20-minute poem “Thou Shalt Not Kill” with a free-jazz accompaniment. Ferlinghetti wrote seven poems published in his ‘A Coney Island of the Mind’ with the intention that they be read with jazz. The introduction to the “Oral Messages” section reads:

These seven poems were conceived specifically for jazz accompaniment and as such should be considered as spontaneously spoken “oral messages” rather than as poems written for the printed page. As a result of continued experimental reading with jazz, they are still in a state of change.
With this new wave in performance, jazz musicians also found a new challenge in assimilating to the vocal and emotional element of the reciting poet. “…[I]n the words of Lipppincott… “We… respond with our instruments as emotionally as possible to the words of the poem and also the pre-arranged form. Such as… for this many lines we will have the drums swelling and rolling and the bass will enter at the bottom and play bowed”.
Very few of the Beats were jazz musicians to any extent. Similarly, the jazz musicians of the time did not often have literary aspirations. Thus, the inspirational connection between the Beat authors and the musicians was not exactly a two-way street. There are some exceptions; Charles Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus” was occasionally performed with poetic accompaniment, and John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” was released with a poem penned by Coltrane himself in the liner notes. There was also a degree of interaction between the two artistic fields; as previously stated, Kerouac interacted with quite a few jazz musicians, including Miles Davis.

Thus, without the Beats, the jazz movement would probably have rolled right along. But, as we have seen, the Beat movement relied heavily upon the genius of great such as Charlie Parker and Miles Davis for the inspiration that produced such valuable works like Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ and Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’. How fortunate that the two movements coincided at just the right time.

– mike_janssen