Since Levi's been reading Richard Hell and Johnny Temple's letting us all in on his punk indie publishing philosophy over at The Book Standard, it seems like a good time to let you know about another important punk literary event, the opening of CBGBs: A Place that Matters, a collection of statements and photographs of and by musicians. The collection will be on exhibit today through Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at Urban Center Gallery, 457 Madison Avenue at 51st St in NYC. The opening coincides with a reception and book signing for CBGB and OMFUG: Thirty Years from the Home of Underground Rock.
I recently posted about possible plans in upstate New York for an "American Tragedy" reality tour of sorts, and we've also featured stories about other literary landmarks. Just like other types of "favorite sons" (or daughters, as the case may be), an author's hometown can bring a lot of attention (and tourism dollars) to even the smallest town. Many times, the places where an author lived and worked play a big factor into the style and subject matter of the writing. Author hometowns, literary landmarks and the backdrops to our favorite stories are a source of pride for the residents who share the connection and a source of information and fascination for literature buffs the world over.
Here are two pretty interesting items I ran across this week. They may come in handy if you need to take an impromptu road trip.
If you're up for a field trip and you love taking tours that revolve around a century old murder, there's something in the works just for you! The residents of Herkimer County, NY are already planning centennial events to mark the county's most famous murder case. The story of Chester Gillette, the murder of Grace Brown and the subsequent trial became the basis for the classic American novel, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. July 11, 2006 marks the centennial of these events and that gives you plenty of time to plan your next summer vacation.
Developers plan to build a retail and residential complex on the seafront that inspired James Joyce's Ulysses. Historians, preservationists and Joyce fans are campaigning against the development -- which proposes shops, apartments, restaurants and even a concert venue to be constructed along Scotsman's Bay, Dun Laoghaire, outside Dublin.
Also, the Godrevy lighthouse -- made famous by Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, is slated to be decommissioned by the lighthouse authority for England and Wales. Protesters argue that the change could endanger fisherman in the area. There are no known plans to dismantle the lighthouse completely.
Concord, a small country town about 15 miles northwest of Boston, was where the colonial American militia stockpiled their guns and ammunition in the months preceding the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. The British attempted a surprise attack on the weapon stores in Concord on the night of April 18, 1775.
The colonials had already anticipated this, and on the first sign of British movement Paul Revere, Samuel Prescott and William Dawes rode ahead of the British armies to spread the word. American defenders gathered in Concord and Lexington, and the result was a rout of the British forces and a major victory for the cause of American independence.
Two generations later, a literary and philosophical revolution began in the same town. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott and other progressive thinkers began holding meetings to discuss anti-slavery activism, spirituality, education and the idea of a uniquely American sense of art. They founded a literary journal called "The Dial" to help spread the word, and New England Transcendentalism was born.
When Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were creating the Beat sensation in the mid-to-late fifties, their friend and mentor William S. Burroughs was halfway across the world in Tangier, a seaport city on the North African coast on the Strait of Gibraltar.
Having run into legal troubles in America and Mexico, Burroughs chose to hide in Tangier after reading about it in the works of Paul Bowles. Paul and Jane Bowles became Burroughs' close friends in Tangier, as did his future collaborator Brion Gysin. Burroughs was visited there by Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, who liked Tangier, and Jack Kerouac, who didn't. It was here, though, that Kerouac picked up Burroughs' scattered writings and insisted that he publish them under the title 'Naked Lunch.'
The early-to-middle 1970's were good years for alternative culture in America. The antiwar movement of the 60's proved itself wiser and more resilient than the pro-war military establishment, and by 1974 America was fully out of Vietnam and President Nixon was hounded into resignation. This same year, Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman created the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
6 POETS AT 6 GALLERY
Philip Lamantia reading mss. of late John
Hoffman-- Mike McClure, Allen Ginsberg,
Gary Snyder & Phil Whalen--all sharp new
straightforward writing-- remarkable coll-
ection of angels on one stage reading
their poetry. No charge, small collection
for wine, and postcards. Charming event.
Kenneth Rexroth, M.C.
8 PM Friday Night October 7,1955
6 Gallery 3119 Fillmore St.
The Six Gallery was a small art gallery in a former auto repair shop near the intersection of Union and Fillmore in San Francisco. Kenneth Rexroth came up with the idea to showcase a few of his young poet friends in a joint reading, and five promising unknowns were selected.
I don't know much about Reed College, except that it is in Portland, Oregon and that it is notable in Beat history as the meeting place of three future writers, the nature-minded poet Gary Snyder, the buddha-minded poet Philip Whalen and the least-grounded and most unsettled of the threesome, the enigmatic but highly appealing Lew Welch.
It's fun to think of these three as nondescript undergrads hanging around campus. I bet they had some good times.
Berkeley, on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, is an extremely cool town. It's not necessarily the University that makes it cool, or at least it's not the undergraduates, who don't look much different from undergraduates anywhere else. What it is is the mass of scraggly humanity that the town has built up over decades and decades of being an alternative-minded kind of place.
Telegraph Avenue is the main thoroughfare. It's got some of the best bookstores in the country, enough guitar-strummin' storefront coffeehouses to keep you high on caffeine and humming James Taylor songs all through the night, and loads of 'street people', the Berkeley term for homeless people, although most of the street people are young, healthy and obviously there by choice.
West of Telegraph is the residential area (Shattuck Avenue is the main street) that Jack Kerouac immortalized in his novel 'The Dharma Bums,' about the Buddhist fad that swept through Jack's crowd of poetry friends in the mid-1950's. The Beats were still obscure at this time, but they were about to become world famous, especially after Allen Ginsberg and four other local poets presented the seminal poetry reading at the Six Gallery in San Francisco.