Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

Beat News: February 2 1998

By Levi Asher on Tuesday, February 3, 1998 01:38 am
1. "Vibrations", the 1971 autobiography of jazz musician and ethnomusicologist David Amram is about to be republished. Amram was a close friend and musical partner of Jack Kerouac, and I'm sure this book will be worth reading. The incredibly good-hearted and positive-minded Amram is also continuing to tour around the world taking part in various spontaneous retrospective beat happenings, along with a crowd of regulars that often includes poet Ron Whitehead, writer Doug Brinkley, biographer John Tytell, and on special occasions Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Hunter S. Thompson, etc. Catch these guys if they come to your town, you won't regret it.

2. Speaking of Hunter S. Thompson, I wonder what's up with the movie version of his "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" which will supposedly star Johnny Depp as "Duke" himself? If anybody has any gossip on this, please pass it along ... No news, by the way, on the long-awaited Francis Ford Coppola film version of "On The Road". At this point nobody thinks this movie will ever get made.

3. RALPH -- that is Ralph Alphonso, creator of the excellent RALPH zine -- doesn't have David Amram's impressive credentials, but could also be described as a jazz musician and an ethnomusicologist (I love saying 'ethnomusicologist'). Ralph appears to be a humble, probably lonely adult male hipster living somewhere in Canada who creates an appealingly weird, beat-toned, retro-styled zine all by himself, using an old Gestetner mimeograph machine. He also tours with a band and creates music CD's of his poignant lounge songs, showing influences as diverse as Chet Baker, Ray Davies (yeah!) and the Peanuts comic strip (one of the bands he works with is called the Van Pelt Trio). I caught his live act in New York a while ago, and since then I've been a big RALPH fan. Water Row Books must like him too, because they just published a book collection of the zine's first 25 issues. They also sell his music CD's and other good stuff.

4. A personal note: I don't usually pay much attention to awards, but I have to admit I was pleased when Literary Kicks was nominated for a 1998 Webby Award. Maybe this is because I've always felt kind of snubbed by the "commercial" side of the web, which the Webby Awards (and it's sponsor, Web Magazine) represents. Maybe I'm extra sensitive about the commercial vs. non-commercial "thing" because I work for a mainstream online service during the day, and have many friends who are obsessively wrapped up in various internet-related start-ups or business adventures. These friends are usually the last to have a nice word to say about Literary Kicks, because they just can't understand why I waste my time building a site that doesn't do E-commerce or sell ads. And my graphic designer friends also treat my site with no respect, because I don't use frames or tables or forms or navigation bars or GIF animations or VRML or Macromedia Flash or Javascript (just plain old 1994-style HTML, goddammit, it's good enough for me).

And while I'm on this subject: it always pissed me off that I never got picked to be Cool Site of the Day. Literary Kicks has been around a lot of days, over a thousand -- I think I was cool enough for one of them.

So the whole point of this aimless rant is ... thank you to the nice people at the Webby Awards who nominated me for for the Print/Zines award, and I'm looking forward to the ceremony on March 6.

Now watch, Salon or Alt.Culture will probably kick my ass.


This article is part of the Beat News series. The next post in the series is Beat News: March 4 1998. The previous post in the series is Beat News: December 30 1997.


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