I want to write about the "Beat Generation" and that means breaking the Google rules and including a number of quips from different sources.
Martin Frobisher, art designer friend posted an article from the Tampa Bay Times about Jack Kerouac and his home and final resting place in St. Petersburg, Florida. The photos accompanying the article are a snapshot of 1972. I bet Fast n' Loud would like to get their hands on that 1972 Chevy Caprice that is still in the garage for restoration.
From an art perspective, trying to burn the candle at both ends, who are the remaining beat poets and writers? What art accompanied them?
““the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road”
The “Beat Generation” emerged following WWII and are synonymous with the culture of the 1950s. They were creative experimentalists, testing cultural boundaries including rejection of materialism. Their free form established a loose foundation for the hippie movement that followed as a transformation from the “beats” and endured through the1960s and early 1970s. The people from those generations are now the ARRP crowd.
They were thinkers and challengers of the status quo: Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac are prominent leaders. Yet, who else?
“Allen Ginsberg had visited Neal and Carolyn Cassady in San Jose, California in 1954 and moved on to San Francisco in August. He fell in love with Peter Orlovsky at the end of 1954 and began writing Howl. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, of the new City Lights Bookstore, started to publish the City Lights Pocket Poets Series in 1955.
Kenneth Rexroth's apartment became a Friday night literary salon (Ginsberg's mentor William Carlos Williams, an old friend of Rexroth's, had given him an introductory letter). When asked by Wally Hedrick to organize the Six Gallery reading, Ginsberg wanted Rexroth to serve as master of ceremonies, in a sense to bridge generations.
Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder read on October 7, 1955, before 100 people (including Kerouac, up from Mexico City). Lamantia read poems of his late friend John Hoffman. At his first public reading Ginsberg performed the just finished first part of Howl. It was a success and the evening led to many more readings by the now locally famous Six Gallery poets.”
At age 93, Lawrence Ferlinghetti is still with us as is City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.
Writer and poet Michael McLure is still teaching, I think. My daughter was a student of his.
“Michael McClure (born October 20, 1932 in Marysville, Kansas) is 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 rendered in barely fictionalized terms in Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums. He soon became a key member of the Beat Generation and is immortalized as "Pat McLear" in Kerouac's Big Sur.”
Buried deep is the lead, one of the remaining “beat” artists is George Herms. George is an assemblage artist, among other things. While attending UC Berkeley in 1955 he met artist Wallace Berman, and poet and printer Robert Alexander who were all a part of the emerging “Beat generation.” Herms made art and has never stopped.
George Herms - Five Decades of Madness
“Loving everyone. Knowing nothing.” —George Herms, on himself
To know the artist you have to see his YouTube as the beat goes on.
“This was not a show steeped in art theory. The Beats, as Herms has been known to say, were truly “conservative” in hewing to romantic values of Beauty, Truth, Art, and anti-materialism. They were about undercutting Eisenhower America: a squaresville that nurtured burdgeoning consumerism, eschewed sincerity and embraced status, and tossed out any idea that threatened its zeal for comfort, conformity and conventionalism. Appropriately, Herms went to junkyards and picked up trash to make art that recognizes a certain equality of form related to Zen philosphical ideas, but also has a gently political, anti-bourgeois slant.”
Screw the Google rules and not liking multiple quotes and such, I have a story to tell here, man.