Monkey Trials, Ferlinghetti walking on and all hail to Beatnicks

The Best

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet, publisher, painter and political activist who co-founded the famous City Lights bookshop in San Francisco and became an icon of the city himself, has died aged 101.


The best minds of my generation

In 1955, Ferlinghetti heard Ginsberg’s seminal poem Howl read for the first time at the Six Gallery in North Beach. The next day, he sent a telegram to Ginsberg: “I GREET YOU AT THE BEGINNING OF A GREAT CAREER. STOP. WHEN DO I GET MANUSCRIPT OF HOWL?” The epic poem was printed in Britain and shipped to San Francisco, where the copies were seized. Ferlinghetti and City Lights bookseller Shigeyosi Murao were arrested on obscenity charges in 1957.

“I wasn’t worried. I was young and foolish. I figured I’d get a lot of reading done in jail and they wouldn’t keep me in there for ever. And, anyway, it really put the book on the map,” Ferlinghetti told the Guardian. Having already sent the poem to the American Civil Liberties Union, “to see if they would defend us if we were busted”, the ACLU successfully defended the poem at a trial that lasted months. The verdict set an important precedent for reducing censorship, and heralded a new freedom for books around the world, while also making both men internationally famous. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/feb/23/lawrence-ferlinghetti-poet...

Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Corso

When asked whether he was proud of his achievements, Ferlinghetti said: “I don’t know, that word, ‘proud’, is just too egotistic. Happy would be better. Except when you get down to try and define the word happy, then you’re really in trouble.”

RIP, Love and enduring respect: thank you.

~

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smiley7's picture

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Raggedy Ann's picture

Here's his last interview with Bob Scheer from 2017.
https://scheerpost.com/2021/02/23/lawrence-ferlinghetti-a-champion-for-t...

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The UFO’s are coming to unify us.

smiley7's picture

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Raggedy Ann's picture

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The UFO’s are coming to unify us.

janis b's picture

@Raggedy Ann
and the video reading of 'pity the nation'. There's something in his voice that reminded me of George Carlin in sound and delivery.

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RantingRooster's picture

my photos are all boxed up and I can't get to them. Sad

I did a consulting gig at Berkley Labs in the early 00's and on the weekends I would hang out and sight see all around San Francisco, and got photos of me and friend outside City Lights. We sat on the sidewalk and did one hits. Smile

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C99, my refuge from an insane world. #ForceTheVote

snoopydawg's picture

City Lights was a must stop in and see what’s new. Always one of my first stops when I visited SF. He will be remembered for some time and lovingly.

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The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

Suffering only makes you a great guy if you come away from it with empathy, a quality that Biden lacks any trace of.

Lookout's picture

https://www.democracynow.org/2007/9/3/legendary_beat_generation_booksell...

LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI: And the book begins — this is a prose book, Poetry as Insurgent Art:

I am signaling you through the flames. The North Pole is not where it used to be. Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest. Civilization self-destructs. The goddess Nemesis is knocking at the door…

What are poets for in such an age? What is the use of poetry? If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of Apocalyptic times, even if this means sounding apocalyptic. You have to decide if bird cries are cries of ecstasy or cries of despair, by which you will know if you are a tragic or a lyric poet. Conceive of love beyond sex. Be subversive, constantly questioning reality and the status quo. Strive to change the world in such a way that there’s no further need to be a dissident. Read between the lives, and write between the lines. Be committed to something outside yourself. Be passionate about it. But don’t destroy the world, unless you have something better to replace it.

If you would snatch fame from the flames, where is your burning bow, where are your arrows of desire, where your wit on fire?

The master class starts wars. The lower classes fight it. Governments lie. The voice of the government is often not the voice of the people.

Speak up, act out! Silence is complicity. Be the gadfly of the state and also its firefly. And if you have two loaves of bread, do as the Greeks did: sell one with the coin of the realm, and with the coin of the realm buy sunflowers.

Wake up! The world’s on fire!

Have a nice day!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

janis b's picture

Thank you for posting this. Wouldn’t it have been amazing to have had a few words with him.

A Far Rockaway of the Heart, 2

Lawrence Ferlinghetti - 1919-2021

Driving a cardboard automobile without a license
at the turn of the century
my father ran into my mother
on a fun-ride at Coney Island
having spied each other eating
in a French boardinghouse nearby
And having decided right there and then
that she was for him entirely
he followed her into
the playland of that evening
where the headlong meeting
of their ephemeral flesh on wheels
hurtled them forever together

And I now in the back seat
of their eternity
reaching out to embrace them

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thanatokephaloides's picture

The poem can be read here.

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

enhydra lutris's picture

@thanatokephaloides

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

janis b's picture

@thanatokephaloides

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@thanatokephaloides Thanks, Thana.

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enhydra lutris's picture

could and was roaming around browsing when the guy behind the counter asked if he could help me. I explained I just wanter to see the place and absorb its aura and then acquire a piece of beat literature that I hadn't already read. He asked "waht about Ferlinghetti" and I said something like cool, so he got down a copy of

Seven Unfair Arguments With Existence

, signed it and handed it to me. Blew me away.

Be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Michael McClure (October 20, 1932 – May 4, 2020) was an American poet, playwright, songwriter, and novelist. After moving to San Francisco as a young man, he found fame as one of the five poets (including Allen Ginsberg) who read at the famous San Francisco Six Gallery reading in 1955, which was rendered in barely fictionalized terms in Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. He soon became a key member of the Beat Generation and was immortalized as Pat McLear in Kerouac's Big Sur.

He was also a very nice guy. He was also my landlord when I lived in the Haight-Ashbury area in the early 90's. Seems like yesterday.

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lotlizard's picture

as “The Journal for the Protection of All Beings”…

https://www.amazon.com/COEVOLUTION-QUARTERLY-Journal-Protection-Beings/d...

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copy of "A Coney Island of the Mind" (know it's around here *somewhere*) and give it a re-read for the occasion.

Was only in City Lights once, maybe six years ago - picked up a copy of "Who Shot the Water Buffalo" by Ken Babbs - which I wasn't all that impressed with on a first read- but will maybe give that another shot, too. Was just now reading that Babbs - who was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot in Vietnam in something like 1962 - wrote the manuscript while he was deployed there but lost it. Forty years later, a friend that he'd given a copy to returned it and he used that as a basis for the book.

Definite thumbs up for the Kesey-Babbs collaboration "The Last Go Around" though, should you run across it - set at the 1911 Pendleton (Eastern Oregon) Round Up.

G Snyder quote.png

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magiamma's picture

https://pleasekillme.com/allen-ginsberg-late-words/

The interview began by discussing Rahsaan and the psychedelic pioneer/author/cow farmer Ken Kesey’s Poetic HooHaw. The HooHaw was an outdoor concert held in the summer of 1977, which featured Rahsaan Roland Kirk (following his stroke) along with Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Anne Waldman, Wavy Gravy, the Flying Karamazov Brothers, and Charles Lloyd. Bill Murray was the emcee, keeping the medicine show rolling with his goofball antics.

Kesey, a big jazz fan, had previously written a fantastic passage describing the experience of hearing John Coltrane for the first time in his second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion. He loved Rahsaan, recalling; “I had a few Roland Kirk tapes on the bus with us back when we rode around the country [with his band of space cowboys, the Merry Pranksters].” Not surprisingly Kesey had slipped Kirk some acid one night back in 1966, after seeing him perform in San Francisco. Years later, Kesey queried Kirk, ‘“Did ya ever get high?’ He said, ‘Man, I never have come down! I been high ever since that trip to Le Honda. It changed my life! I never came down off that trip and I never felt like I had to repeat it either!’”
...
[Dr. Timothy] Leary came, who I was leery of at the time. I’d met him before in Massachusetts and knew him. He had some psilocybin and came to my house and turned on Kerouac and was introducing psychedelia to the intelligentsia – Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Barney Rosset [editor/publisher of Grove Press] Robert Gover [author of the controversial novel The One-Hundred-Dollar Misunderstanding]. I went to visit the Living Theater at the festival in Cannes, then went on to Tangier and came back to Paris. Gysin had the Dream Machine in Tangier, which was just a cylinder with a certain number of cuts in it. You placed it on a phonograph [turntable] and it spun around at seventeen to twenty cycles a second, creating a flashing effect like the strobescope. But the Dream Machine didn’t have the same punch. It was a toy compared with the real strobescope at Stanford [University]. That was all part of the LSD experiment at Stanford in 1959. [At the same time, Allen’s cousin, psychotherapist Oscar Janiger had been a professor at UC Irvine investigating the effects of LSD, giving it to Aldous Huxley and Cary Grant among others]. They aligned the strobescope with my Alpha rhythms. But the feeling was horrible. I was beginning to get physical headaches. Something felt wrong physiologically. It was like my soul was getting sucked.

JK: Wow! So what was the scene like in Tangier?

Allen Ginsberg: Leary came to Tangier to meet Bill. Gregory [Corso], Peter [Orlovsky, Allen’s longtime companion] and myself were all there, and would see Tennessee Williams and Francis Bacon. There’s a lot of photos of that time.

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation

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wendy davis's picture

and thank you to the beat authors and poets. i read them late, but they were pole stars.

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Here's a quote from Robert Scheer which speaks to our own purposes here at c99

“What Lawrence represents is the ultimate uncompromising spirit,” Scheer says, “not in the sense of some pompous asshole who says, ‘I know the truth and here it is,’ but in the sense of saying, ‘I am a bullshit detector … whose main concern is that the average person and artists and poets and everybody not get fucked over.”

I love that notion. h/t to RA for posting that interview.
Hope your'e doing well smiley, nice to 'see' you.

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An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac

lots of great interviews with people who were on the scene.

first published in 1979; reissued in 2012.

put together by Barry Gifford & Lawrence Lee

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