Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

Beat News

Beat News: July 14 1995

by Levi Asher on Friday, July 14, 1995 07:50 pm

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?

Beat News: July 7 1995

by Levi Asher on Friday, July 7, 1995 07:45 pm

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 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.

Beat News: June 23 1995

by Levi Asher on Friday, June 23, 1995 07:43 pm

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!

Beat News: June 6 1995

by Levi Asher on Tuesday, June 6, 1995 07:07 pm

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).

Beat News: May 29 1995

by Levi Asher on Monday, May 29, 1995 07:04 pm

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!

Beat News: May 22 1995

by Levi Asher on Monday, May 22, 1995 07:01 pm

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 ( 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.

Beat News: May 10 1995

by Levi Asher on Wednesday, May 10, 1995 06:57 pm

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:

Beat News: April 22 1995

by Levi Asher on Saturday, April 22, 1995 12:49 pm

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.

Beat News: April 6 1995

by Levi Asher on Thursday, April 6, 1995 12:47 pm

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.

Beat News: April 2 1995

by Levi Asher on Sunday, April 2, 1995 12:41 pm

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 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


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