The lapse of luxury

"It is bitter to have loved and lost than never to laugh it off," Bamuall Subtler

Sunday, April 30, 2006

beat to a beat

memoirs i found in a margin

"I like male writers that write like females."

"Well, I prefer female writers that write like men, and secondly males that write like women."

"Don't either of you care about verisimilitude? It’s more natural to like women who write like women and men who write like men."

"Well, that sounds natural, but how often will it take you anywhere? I’m not going to go out of my way to look for exceptions."

"May I butt in? I prefer the books that have not yet been written."

"You’re my kind of reader -- I only want to write the books that have not been written."

Laughter, guffaws.

A typical conversation I remember from the coffee houses of my youth. I understand the beat movement is making a comeback. But I don’t think the mood could ever be recaptured. Oh, listening to Thelonious Monk plunking away on his bass, while Jack Kerouac impassionately read from his latest bidets-doux. Sometimes I saw Satie in a corner write bony music with his fastidious hands.

In those days it was common to rub heads and shoulders with the great and the famous. For example Allen Ginsberg who was great but not yet famous, or Andy Warhol who was famous but not yet great, or bump into the fetus of somebody fabulously famous today.

The money and grants that run the arts today had no part of the Beat movement. We were all poor and we were all passionate. Art was a gift, and all we required was camaraderie and comradeship. A friendly fuck or sharing some coke or a few joints was all one needed to walk home with a masterpiece under one’s arm. And there was no harm in it, because very often the artist was too enlightened to notice anything missing.

In those days art was dangerous, not like today when paper cuts are the worst thing you can get from a poem. I became a homosexual because I read Ginsberg’s "Howl." Ask my psychiatrist if you don’t believe me. He said you couldn’t read that poem straight all the way through. Other lesser known poems caused revolutions in hundreds of Central American countries. In those days the suffering the CIA caused in the places I can’t remember the names of now was inexcusable. We all demanded that this must stop -- my personal acts of solidarity were coffee and chain smoking -- both being common activities of peasants in the South. I didn’t expect the working classes to understand how much I was doing for them; the moral sympathy vibes were incalculable.

Nowadays with the advent of AIDS our free love is looked down on by everyone. But you have to understand that venereal disease was a rite of passage then. And strictly speaking nothing was every really "free," except lunch perhaps. There were always strings attached, like first names, brushing your teeth, bathing. We did have standards, which we ignored, but we did have standards we looked up to, and we found it easier looking up to things laying on our backs.

Burning the American flag has become a hip subject. We were way ahead in the desecration game: carrying around bits to wipe our noses on, eating it and shitting it, pissing on it, singeing it, baking it, and on occasion, burning it. Burning it was for people who didn’t have imagination. We looked down on people who burned the flag, I mean, what a cliche! We gave the flag a rough time because of Nam.

Now, Nam was like Korea except that America had a become a fascist dictatorship -- which was started by Senator McCarthy -- who paved the way for present day Hollywood by making it hard for screenwriters with ideas to keep their jobs. Apparently there was a communist-Jewish conspiracy to convert everyone to being card carrying Bolshevist atheist Kallabah scholars. Pete Seeger was one of them and I was all for it -- for me it was all about collectivist individualism. I would have killed to protest having to die for one’s country. And that more than anything shows how America couldn’t do without the Beats.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

...but what kind of writing would you get from a room full of howler monkeys?

1:50 a.m.  
Blogger Reid said...

hopefully something abit more concise than Ginsberg.

9:34 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:56 a.m.  
Anonymous Bonong said...

Nam, Korea, coffee houses? I'm curious who this post is quoting, and who once thought art was dangerous.

Other than that, hang in there, dude. You can transcend.

6:49 p.m.  

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