Beat News Archive: 1995

(Yes, this is a photo of Burroughs and Kerouac, apparently posing as private detectives)

December 14, 1995

1. HotWired is running a series of pastel artworks by Francesco Clemente annotated by Allen Ginsberg. The series is called 'Pastel Sentences.'

2. "Poetry in Motion" and "Poetry in Motion II", two new CD-Roms from Voyager, are pretty good. They feature spoken word and musical performances by poets and writers like Allen Ginsberg, Diane DiPrima, Jim Carroll, Anne Waldman, Gary Snyder, William S. Burroughs and Ed Sanders. The interface is clean and unpretentious, and the poetry readings are presented in short, pleasurable bursts, none longer than a few minutes. Diane DiPrima's "Light," accompanied by a hypnotic tingly piano and flashes of colored lights, is one of my favorite pieces. Overall rating: excellent Xmas present!

3. Check this out: a few months ago I received an e-mail from a Norweigan translator named Dag Heyerdahl Larsen who was working on the first Norwegian edition of Tom Wolfe's "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." He needed help with some Americanisms (like "Shazam" and "Baskin-Robbins") and I had fun trying to answer his questions (though many of Tom Wolfe's references make no sense no matter how well you know the language). The book is now out in Norway, and it's called "Syreproven," which means "Acid Test" -- Dag explained to me that the best direct translation of the full title would have meant "The Acid Test Based On Electric Kool-Aid." I agreed with him that this just didn't have that 'ring.' He also told me that nobody in Norway knows what Kool-Aid is.

Dag mailed me a copy, and it was fun to see my name in the appendix, surrounded by all kinds of strange Norwegian text. I wonder what he said about me?

4. I've been wanting to write an update on the much-talked-about Francis Ford Coppola film of "On The Road," but unfortunately I have no hard information to present. I've heard many things -- it's on, it's off, it's on again but Coppola's son will direct ... I heard from one very good source that Woody Harrelson was actually signed to play Dean Moriarty, which is what I recommended in the very first Beat News entry (at the bottom of this page). But now that I've thought about this, I don't even know if I agree with myself that this would be good, and anyway I heard from others that it's not even true.

Other Beat-related film projects are also in discussion stages, including some involving Jack Kerouac and/or Neal Cassady (the two real-life principals in "On The Road.") Nothing, I understand, is definite. At this point, I'd be just as happy to hear that none of these films will be made. There's too much Beat hype lately anyway, and we're all getting sick of it.

5. Speaking of Beat hype: when I started Literary Kicks in the summer of '94 almost nobody was talking about the Beats. What happened? Back then, I didn't even start a Beat News page for the first few months, because there was no Beat News. Now ... forget it. I knew it was getting out of hand when Literary Kicks got mentioned in a fairly brain-dead article about the Beat phenomenon in Vogue magazine. According to Vogue, the Beat Generation was all about clothing! Well well, I learn something new every day ...

Anyway, I used to try to capture every Beat-related URL on the Web somewhere in these pages, but this has recently become impossible. There's just too much stuff out there. I will continue to put stuff I consider particularly interesting in this page, but if anyone else wants to create and maintain a more comprehensive page of Beat listings and links, I will happily make it a part of Literary Kicks. I wish I had time myself, but I honestly don't. Any volunteers?

Coming soon: my e-mail interview with John Cassady, Neal's son.

November 14, 1995

1. I'm proud to present in these pages an original work of fiction by Jan Kerouac. This is an excerpt from Jan's newest and not-yet-published novel 'Parrot Fever,' and the reason I'm proud to present it is not that she's Jack's daughter, but rather that I like the story very much. I hadn't read any of Jan's fiction before, and was surprised and pleased by this clever and gently hopeful piece. Here it is.

2. The Beat exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York is now open. This is a very thorough and well-planned survey of the universe of Beat-related art and culture, focusing heavily on the works of several not-especially-well-known artists of the 50's and 60's, such as Wallace Berman, Jay Defeo, and Bruce Conner, as well as some better known names like Larry Rivers and Robert Rauschenberg. The exhibit is organized into rooms representing Beat locales, like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. There are many artifacts and literary collectibles on exhibit as well, including the original scroll manuscripts (behind glass) of 'On The Road' and 'Dharma Bums,' as well as the original typewritten 'Howl.'

My impression? I liked it more than I thought I would. I hadn't expected such a comprehensive, sweeping presentation. Most of the actual artworks were dark, sardonic and depressing, as befits the era of cultural repression and nuclear fear. However the work I liked best was probably a small and lovingly wrought collage of cut-out church steeples put together by poet Gregory Corso, who is not generally thought of as a visual artist.

The Whitney gift shop also has lots of new Beat-related goodies, and I was unable to leave there without getting mugged for $150. The good news: I now finally own, along with lots of pretty-colored stuff I don't need, the video of "Pull My Daisy," which I'll write up here as soon as I find the time.

3. Daniel Pinchbeck, the son of Beat chronicler (and Jack Kerouac's former lover) Joyce Johnson, wrote an article on "Children of the Beats" for last Sunday's New York Times Magazine (Nov. 5). He interviewed Jan Kerouac, Parker Kaufman (son of poet Bob Kaufman), Village Voice writer Lisa Jones (daughter of Amiri Baraka and Hettie Jones), John Cassady, Neal's other son Curt Hansen and others. Several of the interviews focused on the horrible parenting skills of the Beats, and the Kerouac and Kaufman sections in particular seemed to show hopeless lives in the process of self-destruction.

Without a doubt Kerouac and Kaufman were not father-of-the-year material, but the article struck me and others I spoke to as overly dark. Even the excerpt from Jan Kerouac's novel that I mentioned above shows a bright side that this article does not portray. And as someone in the BEAT-L mailing list asked, why weren't the successful grown children of Michael McClure and Gary Snyder included? In any event, the Jones and Cassady/Hansen interviews avoided tragic overtones, and the article was definitely interesting and provocative.

The New York Times also gave the Whitney exhibit (see above) a shitty review the day after the opening.

4. This is late notice, but Jim Carroll is appearing in an online chat at Sonic Net tomorrow (Nov. 15) at 7 pm. You might also want to check out Sonic Net's "Shows" section to catch Allen Ginsberg (of all people) interviewing Beck and members of Hole at this summer's Lollapolooza.

October 31, 1995

1. According to the New York Times, the writer Terry Southern has died. I've been meaning to write a page on him anyway, so here it is.

2. The new Jack Kerouac CD-ROM is finally out. There is a lot of fascinating material here -- photos never before seen, many letters and manuscripts, the complete annotated text of 'The Dharma Bums.' I think all devoted Kerouac readers will find it valuable. Viking Penguin and author Ralph Lombreglia (who oversaw the project) should be commended for putting together a dignified and solid presentation. And it only crashes my PC about once every two hours, perhaps a duration record for a CD-ROM.

Only one negative note: with hundreds of photos, including many distantly related family members, why no picture or mention of estranged daughter Jan Kerouac? A good tribute like this is meant to last for the ages, and should strive to rise above family squabbles.

3. Literary Kicks was chosen by GNN as one of the nominees for Best of the Net 1995. I'm also psyched that my friends who run Enterzone were chosen as well.

Best of the Net is nice, but New York Press selected Literary Kicks as "Best Web Site Run By A New Yorker" in their annual Best-of issue, and that gives me special bragging rights here on the Manhattan streets. Thanks to everybody for giving me such positive feedback -- I can't pretend I don't love it!

October 7, 1995

1. Forty years ago today, a group of unknown poets based in San Francisco and Berkeley gathered for a poetry reading in a small art space called the Six Gallery. Nobody had heard of Allen Ginsberg or Gary Snyder before; after this seminal event (attended by only about 150 people) the whole world seemed to begin to listen to them. I've updated my Six Gallery page to include a description of the building where it took place, sent by Tony Willard. I also just finished typing in one of the poems Michael McClure read that day, a poem I like a lot called Point Lobos: Animism.

2. I finally have a Charles Bukowski page! This entire section was written by a cyber-buddy of mine, the legendary "Mountain Bike Mike" McCullough (of Michael's Music Links).

3. Rob Hardin's Paralyzed Paradise/Matterland is a pretty fascinating literary experiment, and it's hypertext to the max.

I've sometimes seen Rob Hardin hanging around with the Unbearables, a very original group of downtown New York writers who've recently published an eponymous book I'm now reading. I think my favorite member of this pack is Ron Kolm, who writes complicated little urban dramas about hapless used-magazine vendors, cunnilingus fanatics and the like. A strange and compelling sense of karma hangs over these short and funny tales.

I find much modern "neo-Beat" literature impenetrable; it's too much of the same old Burroughs-inspired perverse obscurity, without clear message or plot or purpose. Too many of these writers seem happy to remain where Burroughs left them, and to aspire only to be as offensive, illogical and inaccessible as they possibly can be. But in writers like Ron Kolm I see signs of a more human literature, a return to the territories Richard Brautigan, Gregory Corso, Ed Sanders and even Kerouac explored. Anyway, "The Unbearables" is definitely worth picking up if you see it, as well as other Unbearable-related (I think) zines and publications like "Sensitive Skin", "Rant" and "Redtape".

September 17, 1995

1. Gary Snyder has published a new book of essays. It's called "A Place In Space" and it's published by Counterpoint.

2. Lincoln Center and the New School are presenting a series celebrating the musical works of Paul Bowles, who was a respected composer (among many other things) before he left the United States to live in Tangier and became a novelist. Bowles is currently in New York to attend these events, and this is a big deal because he has not been to New York (where he was born 84 years ago, in Jamaica, Queens) since 1969.

3. The two sections of Literary Kicks run by contributors have both been updated. Sherri's Beat Bibliography now includes an extensive list of writings about Allen Ginsberg, and Inside the Kerouac Legacy is publishing a contribution by Jan Kerouac, an open letter to New York University regarding her exclusion from the recent Kerouac conference sponsored by the University.

4. Happy 60th Birthday to Ken Kesey!

September 12, 1995

1. According to an article in the current Addicted To Noise, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth has been delving into some unreleased and previously unknown recordings by Kerouac, and is making plans with Geffen to release the material. Cool! Ranaldo has been known to write some good neo-beat stuff himself, in fact.

2. I have a bunch of literary links to tell you about today:

I wouldn't expect to find myself plugging a website that bills itself as the "Harbor of the Western Soul and the Conservative Intellectual." A conservative intellectual is one thing I most decidely am NOT -- but somehow I like the Beaconway Press website anyway. These guys have a sense of fun, and I always like people who have the nerve to state their opinions clearly, even when their opinions are WRONG. But seriously ... these guys seem pretty cool, they know their western lit as well as anyone, and they hate the mainstream literary establishment as much as I do (of course they think it's too liberal; I just think it's too damn boring!). But, whatever ... drop by and see what you think.

Back on safer turf, the 4th episode of Enterzone is out. I first heard of Enterzone a year ago, when one of the founders sent me e-mail asking for a contribution to their first issue. Since then they've become my closest literary comrades on the web, and I think the stuff they're publishing is tremendously original.

I'm also very enthusiastic about a new novel that Enterzone fiction editor Martha Conway has begun serializing on the Web. Martha is a serious writer who's been published in many literary journals, and I think it's cool of her to take a chance on publishing this novel online, as I imagine she could have easily published it through more traditional means instead. It's called In Some Unrelated Land, and it's about a 22-year-old lost soul drifting through Berkeley, California after the sudden death of her parents.

Finally, I just discovered the Cosmic Baseball Association which is some sort of fabulously eclectic rotisserie baseball league where the players are chosen from among the historical luminaries of arts and culture. One of the teams is called the Dharma Beats and you've got to see this lineup. I can't quite figure this website out, which is why I think I like it so much.

The web is really exploding with originality and creativity lately, I think. All of the above sites are efforts by individuals or small groups of people, without a lot of money, and probably without a lot of technological resources either. All it takes is a little courage, and a lot of time.

3. The Whitney Museum in New York will be presenting a major exhibit of Beat-related artwork and artifacts beginning November 9. I'll write more about this after it opens.

September 3, 1995

1. The 8th Annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! Festival will be held on 4-9 October in Lowell, Massachusetts. Featured events will include a rare performance by Patti Smith with Herbert Huncke and Willie Alexander, a variety of walking tours (including several that focus on Kerouac's novel "Dr. Sax"), a tribute to Charlie Parker, a visit to nearby Walden Pond, a number of symposiums, an interpretive dance called "Weird Scenes from the Gold Mine," and a memorial mass for Kerouac. For more info, write Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, Box 1111, Lowell, MA 01853 or call the Lowell National Historical Park at (508) 970-5000.

2. I recently purchased the "Haight-Ashbury" CD-Rom (produced by Rockument) and found a ton of OBC (Official Beat Content) within. The project was led by Allen Cohen, who edited San Francisco's psychedelic newspaper The Oracle during the sixties, and much original material from this paper is here, including articles by Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Lew Welch, Lenore Kandel and even William S. Burroughs. Maybe I bought this one because I'm so tired of waiting for the Jack Kerouac CD-Rom (produced by Viking Penguin) to finally show up. The word from Viking Penguin is that it will hit the shelves very soon, hopefully in the next few weeks.

3. To my surprise, Literary Kicks was chosen as one of the Top 10 Web Sites by Point Surveys. I showed up as #7 on the Best Overall list for the week of August 21, and again as #9 (hey! what's the problem here?) for the week of August 28. I'm especially proud to be one of the only non-corporate sites on the list, and also one of the only ones maintained by a single individual instead of a team. I was told by Point Communications that I'm now on their Top 5% of All Websites list, and so I get to wear this badge:

August 26, 1995

1. Viking Penguin has been releasing several new Kerouac publications. The only one I've seen so far is Book of Blues, a wonderful collection of mostly-unpublished Kerouac poems, written in the same jazz-inspired 'Chorus' form he used for Mexico City Blues and other poetic works. As in these other works, most of the poems are named after the place they were written, and now we even have a couple of poems originating from my own beloved borough of Queens, New York (where Kerouac lived as a young man): "Ozone Park Blues" and "Richmond Hill Blues." I love it!

2. An exhibit of Allen Ginsberg's photographs will be at the Tibor De Nagy Gallery on 57th Street in New York City starting September 7. Call (212) 421-3780 for more info.

3. What can I say about Jerry Garcia that hasn't already been said? Nothing, I guess. But I recently got a very nice note from John Cassady, Neal's son, and among other things he sent me the text of a letter he wrote to the San Jose Mercury News about his own memories of Jerry. Here it is.

4. I've mostly avoided discussing the hot dispute that has been raging over the ownership of Kerouac's estate. This topic has been so much in the news lately, though, that it seemed almost necessary for me to touch upon it in these pages. A great opportunity to do so arose recently when a Beat aficianado named Ralph Virgo offered to create a special section within Literary Kicks devoted specially to original writings from people who knew Kerouac or have particular expertise regarding his life or work. The first installment of Inside the Kerouac Legacy features an original article by Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia, who (as many of you may know) has been one of the key figures in the recent disputes over Kerouac's estate. This whole section is Ralph Virgo's gig -- I'm staying out of it myself ...

Other articles will hopefully follow in this series, focusing on a broad range of areas, and not just the matter of the estate.

5. Tricycle, a popular Buddhist journal, has dedicated a large part of its latest issue to "Buddhism and the Beat Generation." They'll also be publishing a book on the subject, "Big Sky Mind," with writings by Gary Snyder, Lew Welch, Ginsberg, Joanne Kyger and others. Tricycle also has a new web page.

6. There's a new Ken Kesey home page here.

August 4, 1995

Do you like my new Netscape color scheme? It's not too radical -- although I've been doing some experimenting in the past couple of weeks, and some of you may have seen some pretty ugly pages flying by. I finally settled on a simple blue/green against a white or black background, blue to match the Paul Verlaine graphic at the top of my front page, and green for the glass of absinthe Verlaine is drinking in that picture, and also in honor of Michael McClure's statement that "the Beat writers are the literary arm of the ecological movement."

I must admit, though, that I am color-blind (red-green color blind, to be exact, which means I see colors, but slightly differently). So if anyone really HATES my colors let me know -- I'm trying to be correct here, but this is kind of like putting on a shirt and a tie for me -- I think it's right, but I'm not exactly sure.

Anyway, I've been working hard on LitKicks lately, and there are several new things here. Probably the two I'm most pleased with are the extensive new bibliographies of published writings about Kerouac and Kesey, both of which were created specially for LitKicks by contributors. There's amazing stuff here -- I never knew, for instance, that John Updike actually stooped so low as to make fun of Kerouac in The New Yorker (man, I hate that guy.) There's a chronological list of reviews of Kerouac's books, and it's fascinating to observe the ebb and flow of mainstream literary interest in his works over the years. The Kesey bibliography also contains fascinating entries I'd never known about. Thanks to Sherri and Martin Blank for sending these to me!

July 14, 1995

1. Several weeks ago I mentioned Pseudo Online Radio, an excellent radio show devoted to online culture and happenings that interviewed me live and is run by a Beat poet named Galinsky ... well they now have a pretty nifty home page as well, and here it is. They're on WEVD (1050 AM) Thursday nights at 11:00, and are really worth listening to.

2. I think news of Patti Smith counts as Beat News. She became famous as a punk-rock poet in the mid-70's, but there are lots of Beat echoes in her music. She hung out with Burroughs and chanted the name of Rimbaud in her songs. I think that qualifies her ... she was also one of the great singer-songwriters of her time, in my opinion. The reason I mention this is that she's doing a live show in Central Park (here in NY) on July 27th! This is happy news because she's been in retirement for a long time. She read poetry in Central Park a couple of years ago, and it was pretty good (but kind of quiet). Now she's bringing ace guitarist Lenny Kaye along, and is apparently prepared to rock.

There's a sad subtext to this: Patti's husband Fred "Sonic" Smith (of MC5) died suddenly in the past year. I understand Patti's bringing her two children along as part of this concert tour. If this is therapy ... I'll only be applauding that much harder because of it. Maybe I'll see some of you there?

July 7, 1995

1. Several months ago a person named Tim Gallaher sent me an interesting bunch of .au files of Jack Kerouac's voice. I've been meaning to put these files up in these pages, but Tim got tired of waiting for me and found his own web server to place them on, for which I am very grateful. Here's the link. And to everybody else who's getting tired of waiting for me to put your stuff up: I'm working on it, I promise ...

2. Would you like to know why I've been so busy? I've been trying to finish my new web project, which I'M FINALLY DONE WITH!!! I've really been knocking myself out over this thing, and I'd really like it if you'd visit and tell me what you think. I'm not going to try to describe it except to say that this is my first attempt at truly expressing myself on the Web. It's dedicated to the city where I live, it's inspired by the music I listen to and the books I read, and it's called Queensboro Ballads.

3. There's a new internet mailing list dedicated to the Beat Generation. It's called the BEAT-L, and you can subscribe to it by sending a SUBSCRIBE BEAT-L message to listserv@cunyvm.cuny.edu. There's been some very interesting activity lately, and after three weeks there's already a minor flame war going on.

4. Penguin is releasing a CD-ROM dedicated to Jack Kerouac. I haven't found it in any of the stores here in New York, so I can't say much about it yet, but there is a very extensive preview available at Penguin's web site. Click here.

June 23, 1995

I forgot to announce this earlier, but the third episode of Enterzone is out. Enterzone is marginally beat-related, but that's really just an excuse -- I'm announcing it here because I like it, and also because I'm in it. Martha Conway's Drugs is one of my favorite stories in this episode.

Another marginally beat-related thing I like a lot is Malcolm Humes' work on the web. Malcolm does the William S. Burroughs web site (listed below), and has also been exploring some obsessive graphical ideas lately, often involving meat, cheese, photos of the seashore, romance novels, public-domain porn and Netscape server-pushes. His home page is here.

Both Malcolm and the Enterzone people are independent web artists (like me). The business world has really been going wild on the web lately, hasn't it? I hear about huge commercial web ventures constantly now. But some of us aren't doing this to cash in -- and we were here first. And we're not leaving, either!

June 6, 1995

The Kerouac Conference at NYU is going on right now; please read my report if you want to hear about all the fist-fights and ego flare-ups (as well as a fun anti-conference event staged by a literary protest group, the Unbearables, of whom I am now an enthusiastic supporter).

May 29, 1995

Damn! I just accidentally deleted some e-mail before I got a chance to respond for the 2nd time this month. If anybody wrote to me and didn't get an answer back, please write again -- I'm always happy to get e-mail, and I *always* write back (unless I do something stupid like delete the mail). I've been overwhelmed with feedback lately, but it's a good way to be overwhelmed, and I don't want it to stop.

Also, to people who've sent me stuff (especially music/film references, as well as a few other things): I'm still holding on to your material, and am just trying to finish my new project (click here for preview) before I start making major additions to Literary Kicks. Once the new project is done, I plan to devote myself full time to LitKicks again. Thanks!

May 22, 1995

The "Writings of Jack Kerouac" conference at New York University (June 5-6) is coming soon. Now a mysterious group calling itself the Unbearables is planning to protest "The Great Beat Sell Out" and has announced (in alt.books.beatgeneration) the following events:

June 4, 1995, 2:30 pm.
The University Theater, 35 W.4th Street
Rollo Whitehead walking tour.

June 5, 7pm
Biblio's Cafe, 317 Church St, 212/334-6990
Jack Kerouac Impersonators Contest.

June 6, 7:15 pm
Town Hall, on 43rd St btwn 6th & 7th Aves
A gathering to protest exclusive & expensive reading of Kerouac's poetry. Bring signs, banners and implements of conspicuous outrage. We'll also be reading poetry in front of Town Hall for *free*.

I have no idea if these events are for real, but I did write to the person who posted the announcement (scrypt@interport.net) and received a friendly response assuring me that the events would take place. I still haven't decided whether to go to the NYU conference or not (I don't like to decide things until the last minute), but something tells me I'd find more spontaneity and Beat spirit at the above events than in some stuffy folding-chair auditorium inside NYU. What the hell does a $140 enrollment fee and a catered wine-and-cheese reception have to do with Jack Kerouac?

On the other hand, I've never seen Lawrence Ferlinghetti in person, and since he doesn't show up on the East Coast often I hate to miss this chance. But still on the OTHER hand, Lou Reed had originally been listed as one of the speakers, and now he's off the list. Hmmm ...

See you at Biblio's Cafe. Or maybe I'll just stay home and read.

May 10, 1995

1. This is still unconfirmed, but I hear that Brad Pitt and Sean Penn have been picked for the two lead roles in the new film of "On The Road." I'm pretty happy with the choice of Sean Penn, who I think is an excellent actor. As for Brad Pitt, I don't really know his work and couldn't possibly tell him apart from Ethan Hawke or any of the rest of those guys. I assume Sean Penn will play Dean Moriarty, and if that's the case then the film might actually work. Dean (the character based on Neal Cassady) is the critical role -- all Sal Paradise (the character Kerouac based on himself) has to do is sit in the passenger seat looking poignant, and I assume Brad Hawke can handle that.

2. A very nice person named Sherri has endeavored to finally create a comprehensive Beat bibliography for Literary Kicks. She is now beginning to work on author-specific bibliographies, some of which will be written by other contributors. Sherri and I would like these bibliographies to be as complete as possible, so please check the first one out and send her any info you think she might be missing.

3. There's a fun new radio show dedicated to online culture being produced in New York, and they were nice enough to call me for a phone interview this week. I probably got picked because the guy who runs the show -- his name is Galinsky -- is a young poet from Brooklyn, and Galinsky knows Beats. The show is called Pseudo Online Radio, and it's on WEVD 1050 AM on Thursday nights at 11. Here's their logo:

April 22, 1995

1. The film version of Jim Carroll's 'Basketball Diaries' is out, and I would definitely say this classifies as Beat News. Jim Carroll is from a later era than the Beats, but Kerouac praised his writing when Carroll first got published (as a teenager), and his sensibility is Beat without a doubt. However, I recently heard that the film wasn't that great. They made it take place in the 90's instead of the 60's, for one thing.

If it turns out that this film sucks (which is what I'm hearing so far), there's also 'Crumb,' a documentary about the legendary underground comic artist Robert Crumb. Crumb belongs to the hippie era more than the beat era, but he's great, and at least these filmmakers didn't change the 60's to the 90's.

2. Allen Ginsberg's journals from the 50's have just been published. I'll read them after I read the new volume of Kerouac's letters.

April 6, 1995

Some announcements:

1. Allen Ginsberg will be reading his poetry at the Knitting Factory in New York for several nights in a row this spring. He will be covering his entire career chronologically, and I believe he will not read any poem more than once during the series. Dates are May 4, 5, 9 and 11, two sets a night.

2. New York University is sponsoring a conference on 'The Writings of Jack Kerouac' on June 5-6. Participants include Ginsberg, Ann Charters, David Amram, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ed Sanders, Lee Ranaldo, Diane DiPrima, Gregory Corso and (a new addition to this crowd) Lou Reed.

3. Visit Mystic Fire Video if you're interested in ordering some rare Beat-related videos. There are several other kinds of videos available here as well, many with mystical, literary or alternative-lifestyle themes.

April 2, 1995

1. The new Kerouac books (see below) are out. The Portable Jack Kerouac Reader is probably best for the newcomer, as it consists mainly of excerpts from novels and stories, with a few letters and other prose pieces. I still think the best way to discover Kerouac is just to read 'On The Road,' but maybe some people will find value in this collection.

The Collected Letters (the first of what will probably be two editions) looks really fascinating. I haven't bought it yet, as I've already got a huge pile of stuff to read that'll last me through the spring (I'm reading Ed Sanders' "Tales Of Beatnik Glory" right now). If anybody can send me a good review or summary I'll link it in here.

2. Two new plugs: if you want a great catalog of Beat-related books and videos, send e-mail to waterrow@aol.com with your mailing address included. Also, there's a very cool on-paper publication called RALPH (subtitle: 'Coffee, Jazz & Poetry') which you might want to check out. It's printed on an old Gestetner for that retro appeal, and it's only four pages long so you don't have to feel guilty about all the stuff you don't read. If you're interested, visit Ralph Alfonso's web page or send e-mail to ralpha6982@aol.com.

March 12, 1995

After months of procrastination, Malcolm Humes has *finally* made his William S. Burroughs Web site public. This is the site I've been telling you about in my Burroughs page for months. Malcolm is an experienced Web artist (he also created the Brian Eno site) and always does good work. Here's InterNetWebZone.

March 6, 1995

1. Two new Kerouac books will soon be available. The Portable Jack Kerouac Reader is edited by Ann Charters, who did an excellent job with the Portable Beat Reader, and also wrote the first major Kerouac biography back in 1973. A new book of Kerouac's letters is also coming out, and from what I've heard there's amazing new stuff in there. More soon on this.

The Portable Kerouac Reader publication is being kicked off with a series of readings by Ginsberg, Charters and others. The New York reading will also feature Ed Sanders, Maggie Estep, David Amram, Richard Hell, Dave Van Ronk and others, and will be held at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery on March 15. I'll probably go -- if you're there and you recognize me from my photos, say hello. There'll also be a reading in Lowell; I'm not sure if there'll be others beyond that. Check your local alternative paper, if you have one.

2. The 2nd episode of Enterzone is out, and once again I'm really impressed with the quality of the work there. Enterzone is a hyperfiction multimedia arts project (I think), and this episode also pays special attention to the Beat phenomenon. There's a a short story of mine in there too (but I'm not just saying I like Enterzone because I'm in it; I'm in it because I like it).

3. Nate Thompson has created a new Kerouac page here.

Feb 27, 1995

1. Guess what ... Literary Kicks got a mention in the new Bob Dylan CD-ROM. COOL !!!. The CD-ROM, which is called Highway 61 Interactive, has a sort of Myst-like feel, and shows much awareness of Dylan's Beat connections (see here). A section called DYLAN@INTERNET lists several Dylan-related Web sites as well as mine. You have to click on the picture of the telephone to see this section. I spent about six hours clicking around on this CD-ROM before I discovered that my name was in it.

2. Some interesting new material on Jack Kerouac has been surfacing lately. Newsday (a Long Island/New York newspaper) published an article about Kerouac's last night in Northport, Long Island before he moved to St. Petersburg, Florida (where he died). It turns out Kerouac's local friends had a minor beer-bash/going-away party for Jack, and taped the whole thing. No real revelations; the tape mostly confirms other descriptions of Jack's declining years. He babbles about the past, yells for people to bring him beer, and ballet-dances around the room to the tune of "The Wabash Cannonball." (Note: if you want to see the article, it has been posted to rec.music.gdead -- catch it before it disappears. I have the text but am afraid to link it here. Newsday probably has great lawyers).

I also ran into an issue of The Missouri Review (Volume XVII, Number 3) with Kerouac on the cover and a bunch of previously unpublished letters from Jack to Ed White (a friend of Jack's from Columbia, who turned up as Ed Gray in 'On The Road'.)

3. To those of you who have sent me material that hasn't shown up yet -- I haven't forgotten, I'm just very busy. I'm working on a new Web site, a fiction/art project, which I'll be announcing here soon. After I finish this other site I'll start devoting all my attention to LitKicks again, and growing it much faster.

Also, I wish I had more time to shape up my bibliographies and expand into other areas. If anybody out there would like to become a part of this project and take over an area of specialty, I'd like to hear from you. It'd be nice, for instance, if I had an official Kerouac Bibliographer, a Burroughs Film Indexer, a Ginsberg Activities Chronicler, a Kesey expert, etc. Send me mail if you're interested!

4. Lots of news on the upcoming 'On The Road' film. I went to a casting call -- read about it here.

Jan 28, 1995

1. According to New York Magazine, there will be an open casting call for the main parts in the Coppola film of 'On The Road' on February 4 at the St. Paul the Apostle Auditorium near Columbus Circle in NY. Will I be there? HELL YEAH!!! Not looking to get a part; I'll just go to hang around and soak in the scene.

I seem to be contradicting my own rumors about this film constantly on this page. I think I'll just create a new "Road Film Rumors page" soon and put all my misinformation there. The latest rumor, from the same New York magazine article: the film may not happen at all, but if it does it will be Coppola directing, not Gus Van Sant (good!). The screenplay is by Coppola and Michael Herr, who wrote the acclaimed Vietnam novel 'Dispatches' and also worked on Coppola's film 'Apocalypse Now.'

2. Here's a brief, interesting poetry page. There's a cool Jack Kerouac quote in it (you see how easy it is it to earn a link from me).

Jan 14, 1995

Lotsa news to catch up on:

1. More rumors about the Coppola film of 'On The Road.' First of all, supposedly Coppola will only be producing, and Gus Van Sant may be directing. I'm not crazy about this idea: Van Sant's film 'Drugstore Cowboy' was pretty good, but I wouldn't call it great, and he's also the director who screwed up the film version of 'Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.' Van Sant has a relationship with William S. Burroughs, but I don't consider that any kind of indication that he can inhabit a Kerouac state of mind. Kerouac has a sad, sentimental side ... I'd rather see Coppola direct this film himself.

And what's this shit about Bruce Willis playing one of the leads? God, I hope this is just a bad rumor. More on the casting of this below ...

2. The British playwright John Osborne has died. He was one of England's 'Angry Young Men' in the fifties, and became famous for his first play, 'Look Back In Anger,' around the same time that Jack Kerouac's 'On The Road' was published in America. The Angry Young Men were Britain's version of the Beat Generation. They represented the same sort of challenge to the literary complacency of their time, and like the Beats generated a tremendous amount of excitement and controversy. Osborne is not very well known in America these days, but he's written many well known plays and film scripts, including 'Luther,' 'The Entertainer' (starring Laurence Olivier) and an adaptation of 'Tom Jones.' I'm hoping to write more on the Angry Young Men (and the French equivalents, the Existentialists of the 40's and '50's) when I get some time.

3. William S. Burroughs' new book, 'My Education,' has been published. The New York Times gave it a decent review, though it said the lack of a plot makes it more suited for skimming than reading. A Burroughs article also appears in the newest issue of Grand Street. Will somebody please create a Burroughs Web site so I can stop trying to keep up with the activities of this prolific octogenarian? I'm trying, but my main focus here is on Kerouac and Ginsberg and the whole Beat Vision, and I think Burroughs' vision is a separate thing (though he hung out with the Beats and shared many of their insights) and deserves a Web site of it's own.

4. There are two new Beat resources on the Net: alt.books.beatgeneration has been created (the reason 'beatgeneration' is not hyphenated, in case you're wondering, is that there is a fourteen-character limit on Usenet names.) Also, Michael Hayward (Michael_Hayward@sfu.ca) has put an interesting and well-researched paper on the history of Beat publishing up on the Web. You can reach it here.

Beat News from 1994

Literary Kicks
by Levi Asher