I've been reading about various literary film adaptations lately -- Revolutionary Road, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Spirit, even a possible new Great Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann. This onslaught caused me to flash back to a vintage Mad Magazine comic (originally published before I was born, but available in countless reprints such as these). Here are the great Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis riffing on what happens when a book becomes a movie. First, we see the opening segment from their hypothetical novel:
And here's how the corresponding movie made from the novel starts:
Dash blast the gosh darned blankety heck! It's well known that the Kurtzman-era Mad comics of the 50s were among the high points of 20th Century civilization. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get much better than Book! Movie! by Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis from Mad #13, July 1954.
1. I recently visited a gallery in downtown New York to see Malcolm McNeill's Ah Pook Is Here, a vast, never-published collaboration with William S. Burroughs. McNeill was a young graphic artist coming up in swinging 1960s London when a magazine called Cyclops asked him to illustrate a comic strip for a Burroughs text called The Unspeakable Mr. Hart. McNeill and Burroughs had never met when this piece was published, but Burroughs sought out the artist who'd captured his uncanny likeness in the work, suggesting they collaborate on an ambitious project called Ah Pook Is Here.
Apparently based on the legend of Ah Puch, the Mayan God of Death, Ah Pook is Here is as inscrutable as any Burroughs text, and features many signature Burroughs tropes -- mob scenes, strange societies, contrasting urban and jungle environments, omnisexual beings. It's a fascinating and attractive work, and I enjoyed chatting with the artist at the show. I asked him what it all meant, and he replied that he found the meaning of the work within his long and happy friendship with the late Burroughs (whose visage seems to appear in various places within the collection's many pieces). Malcolm McNeill, who stresses that he does his work in physical media rather than Photoshop, bristled when I asked which comic artists had inspired him. "I don't see this as comic art," he said, instead citing Hieronymus Bosch and Francis Bacon as key influences. See for yourself at the Saloman Arts Gallery in downtown Manhattan till December 14.
2. Belgian artist Guy Peellaert of Rock Dreams and Diamond Dogs fame has died.
3. Slavoj Zizek says "Use Your Illusions" in the London Review of Books:
"The reason Obama's victory generated such enthusiasm is not only that, against all odds, it really happened: it demonstrated the possibility of such a thing happening. The same goes for all great historical ruptures -- think of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Although we all knew about the rotten inefficiency of the Communist regimes, we didn't really believe that they would disintegrate -- like Kissinger, we were all victims of cynical pragmatism. Obama's victory was clearly predictable for at least two weeks before the election, but it was still experienced as a surprise."
4. Whose illusion? It's hilarious that authorities in China are protesting the new Guns 'n' Roses album Chinese Democracy, seeing the title as a call for Western-style democracy in their nation. Who ever looks to Axl Rose for insights into global politics? In case anybody's wondering, the title appears to be a self-mocking comparison to Chairman Mao's totalitarean leadership style (Mao used to claim, against all evidence, that China was a democracy). Axl Rose has kicked every other member of Guns 'n' Roses out, and apparently "Chinese democracy" is the only kind of democracy anyone should expect within Guns 'n' Roses now that Chairman Axl is in charge. As for the long-awaited record itself, I think it's pretty good, though I need to give it a few more listens before I reach a conclusive decision.
5. 50 Cent's The Money and the Power is probably the meanest reality show competition ever. Instead of "The tribe has spoken" or "You're fired", 50's (bleeped) exit line is "Get the fuck outta here". You know I'm a fool for good reality TV shows, and so far this is one of the good ones.
6. Carolyn Kellogg admires Johnny Rotten's excellent autobiography Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, recently reissued by Picador.
7. I didn't know there was a poetry series, "Poems and Pints", at historic Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan's financial district. We already missed Paul Muldoon and Mark Strand, but there's still time to catch Dana Goodyear, Katy Lederer, Sharon Olds and many others.
8. Bob Holman and Papa Susso on the Griot Trail in West Africa.
9. The complete Allan Sherman boxed set.
10. A dead Shakespearean makes his stage debut ... as Yorick.
1. MILTON MARATHON! At St. Olaf College (and yes, the name does make me think of Rose from The Golden Girls; I can't help it), a professor led a straight-through reading of Paradise Lost. The article says, "Milton is not as boring as you think. Paradise Lost has something for everyone: Hot but innocent sex! (You thought Adam and Eve spent all their time in Eden gardening?) Descriptions of hellfire that would make The Lord of the Rings' archfiend, Sauron, weep with envy! Epic battles, with angels hurling mountains at their demonic foes! This is edge-of-your-seat material." And it's very true. Milton is not as boring as you think. I mean it. Milton is my homeboy.
2. Terry Eagleton reviews a Wittgenstein biography.
3. I don't agree with Richard Dawkins about many things, but I get his point. However, as I was digging through some RSS feeds to bring you thrilling links, I came across this one: Harry Potter fails to cast spell over Professor Richard Dawkins. From the article: "The prominent atheist is stepping down from his post at Oxford University to write a book aimed at youngsters in which he will warn them against believing in 'anti-scientific' fairytales." I can't help but picture this in my head as Richard Dawkins surrounded by crying children as he explains that Santa Claus isn't real. In my head, it goes like this: "IT'S YOUR PARENTS!" he yells as the children wail and vow to hate science as long as they live.
4. I wish I could bring myself not to be bored nearly to death by Camille Paglia, but I'm not sure that will ever happen. In any case, she goes on and on and on about how she selected the poems for her book Break, Blow, Burn (which came out in hardcover in 2005). Whee.
5. Ever wanted to know what it's like to be a freelance term paper writer? You're in luck.
6. On the release of his book Why We Suck, Heather Havrilesky interviews Denis Leary. From the introduction to the interview: "Leary called from his home in New York City to talk with Salon about George Carlin's legacy, the culture of permissive parenting and the controversy surrounding his book. Far from the violent frat boy he portrays on his show, Leary not only referred to himself as a "dyed-in-the-wool Democrat" but said that he considers himself a feminist. Still, he insisted that if no one is pissed off, that means he's not doing his job."
7. Misery memoirs: they sell by the millions, but could their day in the spotlight be coming to an end?
8. On the Origin of Species: The Illustrated Edition prompts an annotated slideshow.
9. The Five Most Obnoxious Literary Fads. I nodded at some of this (The Da Vinci Code hatred, for instance), but even though I know I wouldn't be able to read one now without wanting to throw it out of the window of a moving vehicle, I really liked the Sweet Valley High books. When I was 11. (Also I've never read a single word of anything having to do with Harry Potter.)
10. Of Bibiophilia and Bibioclasm: hurrah for secondhand books.
1. If you grew up ordering slim paperbacks in school from Scholastic Book Services, you'll enjoy this Flickr set as much as I do (via).
2. Neil Young has written an article for the Huffington Post about how the Detroit auto industry can radically alter its corporate culture by embracing green innovation. Young is clearly a transportation freak -- aside from his work with Lionel Trains and Linc Volt, he also once wrote "Long May You Run", a sweet love song about a favorite car. But I get the biggest kick out of the simple fact that Neil Young has written an article for the Huffington Post.
3. Judith Fitzgerald of Books Inq., responding to an apt appreciation by Billy Collins of a new Dylan publication, says that Leonard Cohen is a better poet than Bob Dylan. Levi Asher says Judith Fitzgerald has got to be kidding. Leonard Cohen wrote "Bird on a Wire" and maybe two other good songs. The album Blood on the Tracks alone outdoes Cohen's entire career. A midget can't play basketball with a giant.
4. "Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons found that doctors interacting with literature were more willing to adopt another person’s perspective, sometimes after just four one-hour workshops." I believe it. More here.
5. A 4th Century Greek joke book anticipates Monty Python's dead parrot sketch. But what about the cheese shop?
6. OUP Blog presents William Irvine on desire, a topic of infinite mystery.
7. The Millions remembers Liar's Poker.
8. Neil Young is writing about cars, and Lexus is sponsoring original fiction. Participants include Curtis Sittenfeld and Jane Smiley. The collaborative novel's visual layout is a little too "Lexus" for my tastes, but the experiment is worth a look.
9. Joan Didion is writing a film for HBO about Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, who will forever be remembered as the subject of a Watergate-era John Mitchell prediction that didn't come true.
10. I caught PBS's broadcast of Filth, about 1960s British decency advocate Mary Whitehouse, last night. Very well done, and quite even-handed. (Note: the fact that I am praising the show has nothing to do with PBS buying a Filth blog ad on LitKicks, and the fact that I watched the show has everything to do with the fact that Roger Waters sang about Mary Whitehouse on Pink Floyd's Animals).
11. Wonkette is a good political website, but they clearly know nothing about The Godfather. Nobody told Tessio (Abe Vigoda) that he was going to Las Vegas before killing him on the way to the airport -- that was Carlo Rizzo. Jeez.
Yeah, I got my hands on a real-life Amazon Kindle e-book reader for a few minutes. Did I "feel the power"? Hell no. The physical packaging reminds me of the Coleco Adam. I tried to read a story by P. G. Wodehouse and I felt like I was playing Pong.
The physical button interface is clumsy, but my main gripe with the Kindle has to do with market strategy: I believe Amazon should sell electronic books that play on a wide variety of popular devices, not a single overpriced dedicated device. When I first wrote on LitKicks that e-books won't succeed until we can read them on iPhones and Blackberries, several of you disagreed, but I think the success of a new iPhone reader called the Stanza is proving me right.
This leaves me, though, with a problem. I was originally going to get an iPhone but I didn't want to switch carriers or set my alarm clock to wait in line at the Apple Store, so I never got an iPhone. Instead, I'm rocking a Verizon LG Dare which is basically an iPhone wannabe, and I like the phone fine except it won't run Stanza. I hope the folks at Lexcycle are working on a few non-iPhone ports please ...
2. Check out Tina Brown's The Daily Beast, which features worthy contributors like Maud Newton and Rachel Maddow. At first glance the Beast appears to want to be an East coast version of Huffington Post, and since I like the Huff, I think that's just fine. The site will need to shake out a few tech things -- can we have author names in the RSS feed, please? -- but it appears to be off to a great start.
3. Andrew Gallix at the Guardian asks: whatever happened to the creative potential of digital literature? Good question. I have a bit to say about this, but it will wait for a post of its own.
4. While we're talking tech, I haven't had a chance to check Google's Book API out but I have a feeling this idea has long term potential.
5. Bat Segundo goes the distance in a feisty interview with the great film director Mike Leigh, whose latest character study is called Happy Go Lucky.
6. Bill Ectric interviews Ekaterina Sedia, author of the novel The Secret History of Moscow.
7. A linguistic study of Blog Speak (via Sully)
8. Tina Fey is writing a book! Will she reach the heights of other truly literary comedian-humorists like Groucho Marx, Robert Benchley, Woody Allen and Steve Martin? Well, she hasn't let us down yet.
9. Heaven-Sent Leaf is a new book of poetry by Katy Lederer, author of Poker Face. Poker and poetry have been a good combination since, at least, A. Alvarez.
10. A YouTube recording of a true castrato. Quite disturbing to listen to. Click through and you'll see what I mean.
11. I didn't get much of a response, folks, to my probing questions about Henry David Thoreau and the economy. Let's yak it up in the outfield, people! Really. I didn't think you were the types to get scared away by classic literature so easily (I know you can yak it up plenty when the topic is, say, Sarah Palin). So, the next round in our "Big Thinking" series will be about our public political dialogue, and our special guest writer will be Ludwig Wittgenstein. Tune in tomorrow evening when the fun begins.
2. I wrote a few days ago that "language was George Carlin's playpen", and the quotes I've heard and videos I've watched since then have reinforced this idea for me. Here's a line from the characteristically good New York Times obituary:
“By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth"
That's William S. Burroughs territory right there.
3. Young transgressive author Tony O'Neill met guitarist Slash and comedy director John Landis at Book Expo LA. That's even better than a tote bag full of foam animals, pens, buttons and frisbees.
4. Congratulations to blogger Lizzie Skurnick on a book deal! And if From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is involved, all the better.
5. Via Elegant, Prufrock meets Portishead.
I enjoy comparing baseball and football.
Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game. Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.
Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park! Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.
Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying.
In football you wear a helmet. In baseball you wear a cap.
Football is concerned with downs - what down is it? Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?
In football you receive a penalty. In baseball you make an error.
In football the specialist comes in to kick. In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness. Baseball has the sacrifice.
Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog... In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play.
Baseball has the seventh inning stretch. Football has the two minute warning.
Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - might have extra innings. Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.
In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not too much unpleasantness. In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.
And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:
In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.
In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I'll be safe at home!
However, it's a hell of a lot funnier when he tells it:
Farewell to one of our comic greats, certainly safe at home.
I first went to see Bo Diddley at a great New York nightclub called Limelight, a converted gothic church between the West Village and Chelsea, on July 26, 1987. This was a big comeback show for Bo Diddley, who had recently made his face familiar on MTV playing the pool player with the box-shaped guitar in George Thorogood's video for "Bad to the Bone". Curious about the swaggering guy in the Thorogood video, and vaguely aware of his music, I went and bought a Bo Diddley album and found a treasure chest of primal, hard-driving, joyful, funny three-minute blues-rock songs I could listen to over and over. I jumped at the chance to see him in concert, and managed to squeeze into the fifth row of the packed nightclub to gaze up at his thick hands laying that pulsing tremolo over those Bo Diddley chords on that beautiful box-shaped guitar. Bo Diddley was pretty old in 1987, but he wasn't too old to snarl his lyrics, or to enjoy himself. It was 75 minutes of the Bo Diddley beat, leavened by the Bo Diddley sense of humor. I don't know which I enjoyed more, the beat or the humor.
The Bo Diddley beat is such a good beat (and by the way, of course he didn't invent the beat, he just figured out how to do it on an electric guitar) that listeners may mistake this for his only credit and neglect what a good writer Bo Diddley was. Like his friend and partner-in-crime Chuck Berry, Ellis "Bo Diddley" McDaniels lived to tell stories and create characters. His songs are what made him famous, even more than his beat. His words were as simple as his guitar playing, and just as strong. Many blues fans don't even know that Bo Diddley wrote this song, which became a blues staple and a Muddy Waters classic:
Now when I was a little boy,
At the age of five,
I had somethin' in my pocket,
Keep a lot of folks alive.
Now I'm a man,
You know baby,
We can have a lot of fun.
I'm a man,
I spell M-A-N ... man
Bo Diddley's greasy hambone style was always rooted in humor. Influenced by earlier raunchy vaudeville acts like Butterbeans and Susie, Diddley often worked comedy routines into songs, most successfully with his maracas player Jerome Green as comic foil. He had a couple of hit singles with Say Man and Say Man, Back Again:
Bo: Say man
Jerome: Yeah, what's that?
Bo: Speaking of your old lady, I seen that new girl you got.
Jerome: Yeah, ain't she nice?
Bo: Yeah, she's got everything a man could want.
Jerome: Sure has!
Bo: Hair on her chest, a mustache, everything a man could want ...
Sometimes Jerome is straight man, and other times Bo gets stuck with the role:
Jerome: Say, look here
Bo: What's that
Jerome: I can do what you're doing
Bo: Then how come you not doing anything?
Jerome: I got you doing it
The humor frequently reflects the tradition of aggressive boasting that also characterizes today's gangsta rap:
500%, mo' man
A livin' dream
Bo Diddley, baby
Mo' man than you ever seen
Strong and handsome
And a teasin' tan
Bo Diddley, baby
A nat'ral born man
I'm drivin' a '48 Cadillac
With Thunderbird wings
Tellin' you baby, that's a runnin' thing
I got wings that'll open
And get her in the air
I think I can take it away from here
Other times his leery, suspicious barbs recall Groucho Marx, as when he sends up the children's song "Mockingbird":
Bo Diddley buy his babe a diamond ring
If the diamond ring don't shine
He gonna take it to a private eye ...
Bo Diddley died yesterday at his home in Archer, Florida. Some obituaries I've read call him an ornery man, referring to his bitterness over the greater fame of several of his early-rock pioneer peers. I don't know if he was ornery or not, but he seemed quite happy with life at the Limelight concert on July 26, 1987. The concert was such a big success that immediately afterwards a second Bo Diddley concert was announced, this time to be recorded for a live album featuring Rolling Stone lead guitarist Ron Wood and an impressive lineup of musicians. I got tickets for the show at the Ritz on November 25, 1987, but found it disappointing compared to Limelight four months earlier. I blame the overly professional band. Like Chuck Berry in concert, Bo Diddley just needs a spirited and sloppy trio to thrash in the background, and can be easily overpowered by slick backup musicians. There was also no need for Ron Wood to join Bo Diddley on guitar, as everybody in the audience knew: when Bo Diddley's on stage, you don't need another guitar.
The live album was released but quickly forgotten, because it wasn't a great show. But I remember a moment towards the end that you won't catch on the album. Diddley, perhaps sensing that the band wasn't hitting it hard enough, started shouting at them. "Come on!" Then he started pogoing. Up and down. The whole bulk of him. "Come on, man!" he shouted at Ron Wood, who presumably had never seen such behavior from Keith Richards.
Ornery? The guy was 58 years old and at least 250 pounds, and he was pogoing onstage at the Ritz. That's not any kind of ornery I know.
I walk 47 miles of barbed wire,
Got a cobra-snake for a necktie,
I got a brand new house on the roadside,
Made from rattlesnake hide,
I got a brand new chimney made on top,
Made out of a human skull,
Now come on take a walk with me, Arlene,
And tell me, who do you love?
Who do you love?
Tombstone hand and a graveyard mind
Just 22 and I don't mind dying.
Who do you love?
The New York Times has put up some very good articles about Bo Diddley, and here's a note posted at NewCritics.
I hadn't realized the extent to which Mark Sarvas had written a psychological comic novel in the classic tradition of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Joseph Heller and Bruce Jay Friedman (John Updike even dabbled in this specific tradition with Bech: A Book). Since I love this style of writing (these writers were all loosely part of a "dark comedy" or "black comedy" scene in the 1960s and 70s), I am thrilled to find in Harry, Revised a skillful homage to that past tradition, as well as a very original novel that should find many happy readers today.
Here's the good news: Mark Sarvas is a really funny writer. But as a comic novelist must, he deploys the humorous touches very carefully at selected points within this generally morbid story about a forty-something husband and doctor whose wife suddenly dies, leaving him with no clue what to do or who he is.
Told in present tense, the jerky plot evokes the unhinged motions of a grieving mind, which is what makes it work. The character floats through funerals and relatives and diners and waitresses and sandwiches. He talks to people with names like Max, Bruce, Molly and Lucille. In the end, Harry, Revised is a book about love, though it's not quite a love story (in the same way that The Great Gatsby was a book about love but not quite a love story). It's also a sobering book about marriage, about the importance of forgiveness and honesty in marriage. (Since I'm getting married this summer, I think I'll take this book's lessons to heart.)
The book's main character only learns these lessons too late, though, and so this is a sad book. But, as in Saul Bellow's Seize the Day (which it resembles), this book is about redemption through sadness.
The main character's name is the key; throughout the novel this lurching doctor is not yet Harry Revised. He is Harry Rent -- Harry torn, Harry destroyed, like a ripped shirt.
The book's denouement takes some shaky turns, and one feels the author strain slightly towards the end, as the book descends to gay prison sex jokes and unlikely elaborate setup schemes to reach its finale. But every comic novel is allowed to ride off the rails; Bellow and Roth did it all the time. By this book's moving final pages, the title character has truly become Harry, Revised.
Bravo to Mark Sarvas, the first lit-blogger to hit a home run.
Bobbitt's book sounds to me like yet another apocalyptic argument for total war against Islamic extremism -- the NYTBR is fond of these arguments -- and Niall Ferguson has absolutely massive praise for it:
This is quite simply the most profound book to have been written on the subject of American foreign policy since the attacks of 9/11 -- indeed, since the end of the cold war.
And what does this incredibly profound book offer? A blank, infinite fear of our enemies, of course:
The rats that transported the lethal fleas that transported the lethal enterobacteria Yersinia pestis did not mean to devastate the populations of Eurasia and Africa. The Black Death was a natural disaster. Al Qaeda is different. Its members seek to undermine the market-state by turning its own technological achievements against it in a protracted worldwide war, the ultimate goal of which is to create a Sharia-based "terror-state" in the form of a new caliphate. Osama bin Laden and his confederates want to acquire nuclear or biological weapons of mass destruction. Precisely because of the nature of the market-state, as well as the actions of rogue nation-states, the key components and knowledge are very close to being available to them -- witness the nuclear Wal-Mart run in Pakistan by A. Q. Khan. With such weapons, the terrorists will be able to unleash a super-9/11, with scarcely imaginable human and psychological costs.
Ferguson, enraptured, ends the article like this:
Yet it is striking that, despite being a Democrat, Philip Bobbitt so often echoes the arguments made by John McCain on foreign policy. He sees the terrorist threat as deadly serious. He is willing to fight it. But he wants to fight it within the law, and with our traditional allies.
Perhaps — who knows? — this brilliant book may also be an application for the post of national security adviser. In times of war, stranger bedfellows have been known than a Democratic Texas lawyer and a Republican Arizona soldier.
There is not the slightest suggestion in Ferguson's article that peaceful problem-solving could ease the tensions that roil our world. Instead ... well, as our next President John McCain sang: "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran". And let's hope that President John McCain will bomb those Shiites who run Al Qaeda too, right? Bring on more war, better war, smarter war! The New York Times Book Review says Terror and Consent is the most important book about American foreign policy since 1991, and who on earth has the credentials to argue against "a professor at Harvard University and Harvard Business School, a fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford"?
This cover article has ruined my aesthetic radar for the weekend, but several of the other pieces I'd like to discuss revolve around political questions too, so let's keep going. I wasn't sure whether or not I would read N+1 editor Keith Gessen's much-anticipated debut novel All the Sad Young Literary Men. I like N+1's sense of style and I love their inellectual (over-)confidence. But as I wrote when I reviewed the work of Keith Gessen and other N+1 writers a year ago, I am disappointed by Gessen's passive approach to politics, which seems to amount to a deeply internalized sense of hopelessness (precisely the same kind of hopelessness, I think, that one will feel after reading too many pro-war articles by senior fellows from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford).
Fortunately, according to Andrew O'Hagan in his favorable review of Sad Young Literary men, this novel adopts a bemused and self-critical tone towards the confused politics of modern young literate hipsters, mocking the same lack of conviction I described in my earlier review above. It sounds like Gessen has found the right angle from which to write this novel, and I bet I'll like the book once I read it.
Richard Brookhiser's summary of Steven Waldman's Founding Faith (about the religious beliefs of America's founding fathers) is satisfying and informative, and so is Jacob Heilbrunn's angry piece about Philip Shenon's The Commission, which describes several ways the Bush/Cheney administration manipulated the 9/11 commission to serve their plans for war in Iraq.
I'm excited to learn of a new book about Allen Ginsberg and other Beat writers' adventures in India, A Blue Hand by Deborah Baker. Critic Celia McGee is a talented writer -- several phrasings in this review caused me to pause with admiration -- but I regret her attitude of condescension towards Ginsberg and towards Indian religion:
Baker keeps tabs on a certain Asoke Sarkar, whose genie-like materializing in a saffron robe turns out to be somewhat responsible -- or, depending on the viewpoint, to blame -- for Ginsberg’s loosing the Hare Krishna chant on the United States.
I don't blame anybody for spreading the ancient practice of praying to Krishna to the United States. I'd rather hear chants of "Hare Krishna" than chants of "let's bomb those motherfuckers back to the stone age". Guess which chant I hear more often these days?
Finally, having witnessed countless failed attempts at literary satire in the New York Times Book Review in recent years (particularly within the endpaper essay), I just have to point to Sarah Weinman's New York Magazine piece on Philip Roth's 75th Birthday. Why doesn't the NYTBR ever run a funny piece like this?