Archives For April 2010

Charles Bukowski Exhibition

The Huntington Library in San Marino is set to display its Charles Bukowski collection for the first time, starting October 9th, and running into the start of next year.

The material on display comes from their Bukowski collection, which was donated by his widow, Linda Lee Bukowski. The pair married in 1985.

“Charles Bukowski: Poet on the Edge” will showcase 60 items from the library’s collection, and another 15 from his widow’s collection. These include typed manuscripts, first editions and photos of Bukowski’s private life.

For more info, please see the Huntington Library website.

The Beats in Mexico City

Sadly this article came out a little too late for use in Beatdom #6: The Travel Issue, but it makes for some fantastic reading. I highly recommend you go read the whole thing.

The Beat Generation has always been associated with Mexico. From Kerouac’s interest in the culture and spirituality, to Burroughs’ need for escaping the US authorities, Mexico provided a playground for our favourite writers.

This article, from the Associated Press, details some of the more famous locations, and runs through the history of the Beats’ activities in Mexico City.

I don’t want to summarize anymore, because I’d be doing you an injustice. Please set aside five minutes and go read the whole damn thing. You won’t regret it.

Here’s the link again.

The Ostrich: An Edaurdo Jones Poster

A while ago, Mr. Jones asked me to make him a poster for distribution across the continental United States. It’s tough to get a man’s words onto a small sheet of paper and still do him justice. It’s even tougher when you’re still a Photoshop amateur… But here’s what I came up with…

The Ostrich

Beating a New Trail

Marty Flynn at the wonderful HSTbooks has written up Beatdom for his website.

Here’s the link.


Also, it’s David S. Wills Week at the Nervous Breakdown! Go take a look.

A Guide to Kerouac's Characters

There were some huge technical issues immediately preceding the release of Beatdom #3, and sadly the issue was never available in print. It is, however, available here to download.

In this issue we ran a long feature that named the real-life people behind the characters that were featured in Jack Kerouac’s novels.

To read the full list, please click here. (It’s free!) Below are just some of those characters.

Real Name:

William Burroughs


Burroughs should need no brief biography printed on the pages of Beatdom. If you are reading this, then you know his story and his work. If you don’t, then no few lines is enough – buy his books and books about him.


Book of Dreams – Bull Hubbard
Desolation Angels – Bull Hubbard
On the Road – Old Bull Lee
The Subterraneans – Frank Carmody
The Town and the City – Will Dennison
Vanity of Duluoz – Will Hubbard

Real Name:

Lucien Carr


Carr was central to the Beat movement. He was the embodiment of Beat – intelligent yet wild, well read but crazy. He introduced Kerouac and Ginsberg. “Lou was the glue,” Ginsberg quipped. He killed David Kammerer and sought refuge with Burroughs and Kerouac.


Big Sur – Julian

Book of Dreams – Julian Love

On The Road – Damion

The Subterraneans – Sam Vedder
The Town and the City – Kenneth Wood

Vanity of Duluoz – Claude de Maubris

Real Name:

Neal Cassady


Cassady perhaps the only person on this list more famous for his most noted alias – Dean Moriarty. The legendary Holy Goof inspired so much of the Beat movement and literature, despite having no famous literary output of his own. He was Ginsberg’s lover and ‘secret hero of these poems’.


Big Sur – Cody Pomeray
Book of Dreams – Cody Pomeray
Desolation Angels – Cody Pomeray
The Dharma Bums – Cody Pomeray

The Subterraneans – Leroy
On the Road – Dean Moriarty
Visions of Cody – Cody Pomeray

Real Name:

Gregory Corso


Corso is a hero here at Beatdom. Whereas most would think of the holy trinity of Beats – Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs – we rate Corso among them as an equal. His life was long and tragic, but his poetry immortalised him as a great.


Book of Dreams – Raphael Urso
Desolation Angels – Raphael Urso
The Subterraneans – Yuri Gligoric

Real Name:

Allen Ginsberg


As with Burroughs, if you don’t know much about Ginsberg, then perhaps you ought to go and do some more reading. This short biography could never do him justice for his role in poetry, and in the Beat Generation.


Big Sur – Irwin Garden
Book of Dreams – Irwin Garden
Desolation Angels – Irwin Garden
The Dharma Bums – Alvah Goldbrook
On the Road – Carlo Marx
The Subterraneans – Adam Moorad
The Town and the City – Leon Levinsky
The Vanity of Duluoz – Irwin Garden
Visions of Cody – Irwin Garden

HST for Beginners

Marty, over at the fantastic HSTbooks has a new website.

You may well remember the HST for Beginners series that he started last year. Some of the world’s best and brightest Hunter S. Thompson scholars were invited to give their views on the man and his legendary work.

The contributors included Wayne Ewing, William McKeen, Simone Corday, Peter Knox, Peter Richardson, Noel Davila, Marty Beckerman and myself.

We first discussed the separation of Hunter and Duke. That is to say, we each wrote about how the real Hunter differed from the persona that we all know through his work.

Secondly, we talked about Gonzo and what it meant. Most importantly, we all touched upon whether it should or shouldn’t be emulated.

The series now has its own website, which is in the early stages of development. Please take a look at

Alene Lee

One of the great mysteries of the Beat Generation is that of Alene Lee. She is, or rather, was, an enigma. Jack Kerouac wrote about her (as Mardou Fox in The Subterraneans and Irene May in Book of Dreams and Big Sur) but the depictions he gave weren’t particularly accurate.

Lee guarded her privacy and so for many years little has been known about her. A few photographs exist, and there are some references to her in a few books (with nothing in the books specifically regarding the women of the Beat Generation), but not a lot was known until recently.

In Beatdom #4 Steven O’Sullivan wrote a fantastic essay about her, after doing some extensive research. You can read that essay here for free.

After reading the essay, Lee’s daughter contacted Beatdom and offered us some never-before read work: An essay about the life of Alene Lee, some excerpts from the writings of Alene Lee, and an entire short story by Alene Lee.

These were all published in the sixth issue of Beatdom, and comprise the largest published collection of Alene Lee material anywhere in the world.

You can read all of this in the most recent issue of the magazine, available for free here.

Steve Buscemi to Direct Queer

Here’s a bit of Beat news that might interest you…

Apparently Steve Buscemi has been linked with directing a movie adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ novel, Queer. This is a story that has been floating around for years, but now it appears to have gained momentum.

On Friday night Buscemi and several other actors took to the stage at Florida Studio Theatre to read the screenplay in front of an audience. The screenplay was written by Oren Moverman.

Buscemi told the audience that he had visited Burroughs weeks before the author’s death to gain his approval of the film project.

Read more about Burroughs’ work on screen.

Happy Birthday Bob Kaufman!

On this day in 1925, Bob Kaufman was born.

From Beatdom Issue One:

Bob Kaufman: The Unsung Beat


It always baffles me to find Bob Kaufman omitted from a great many books and documentaries and websites and talk about the Beat Generation. For me, Kaufman is the embodiment of Beat. That is not to say that the more well known names and faces did not embody the spirit they are most widely credited with creating and fulfilling, but rather that Kaufman was as Beatnik as any of them, and people today forget that all too easily. Hell, many critics argue that it was Kaufman who actually coined the phrase “Beat”, and not Jack Kerouac.

What would Kerouac say? Kerouac and his well-known Beat Generation contemporaries respected Kaufman as much as anyone, but he has been downplayed by later critics and fans. In France, where his largest following existed, he was known as the ‘Black American Rimbaud”.

Maybe there is a simple explanation for this apparent amnesia… Kaufman only wrote his poetry down on paper when forced to, preferring instead to read it aloud in public, or to indulge in a little guerrilla poetry, posting notes on shop windows, criticising society and the police. He preferred to recite his works in coffee shops and on the streets, once reading to Ken Kesey before the two knew each other, and frightening the young Kesey with his mad appearance, but impressing him nonetheless. Consequently, little accurate biographical information is available for willing scholars, and Kaufman remains for most a mythical Beat figure.

“My ambition is to be completely forgotten,” he once told Raymond Foye, editor of his collection of poems, The Ancient Rain.

His poetry had many of the influences of the works of other Beats, primarily jazz and Buddhism. He also had drug problems and run-ins with the law. And his life consisted of stories the equal of those that made famous. For example, when John F Kennedy was assassinated, Kaufman took a vow of silence that he never broke until the end of the Vietnam war. When he spoke, he recited a poem he had written, entitled “All Those Ships that Never Sailed.” Although he did speak after this, he remained more or less in solitude until his death in 1986.


The following bio is drawn from an extremely wide selection of reading, containing a number of conflicting dates and stories. Although this is testament to the wonderfully elusive life and times of the poet, it also means: Take the info with a pinch of salt, friend.

Bob Kaufman was born in New Orleans in 1925, to a German Jewish father and a Martinican black Catholic mother. His grandmother was a practitioner of Voodoo, while he was active in both Catholic and Jewish traditions, and later he became a Buddhist. It could therefore be stated that he was influenced in one way or another by a variety of religions and had an unusual and diverse racial heritage.

To add to these experiences, Kaufman joined the Merchant Marines when only thirteen, survived four shipwrecks, and travelled the world, meeting Jack Kerouac. He read widely and studied literature at New York’s The New School, where he met William S Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. He led unions and spoke on the docks on both coast, and was friends with Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk and Charles Mingus. In 1944 Kaufman married Ida Berrocal, in 1945 their daughter, Antoinette Victoria, was born, and in 1958, he married his second wife, Eileen Singe.

So when he moved to San Francisco in 1958, with Ginsberg and Burroughs, it would be fair to say that he had gained quite a bit of life experience. He met Ferlinghetti and Corso in San Francisco and helped develop the local literary Renaissance. Here he devoted himself to spontaneous oral poetry that flowed to the beat of jazz and bebop, the music that pulsed through the dives and haunts of the Beatnik North Beach area. He often took his son, Parker (named after Charlie Parker), into coffee houses and cafes, to “hold court”.

With Allen Ginsberg, John Kelly and William Margolis, Kaufman founded Beatitude magazine in North Beach, in 1959 (or ’65 or ’75 depending on the used resource). The magazine today exists in name and memory through Beatitude Broadside and Beatitude Press. Coupled with this accomplishment, and the creativity of his poetic performances, Kaufman read at Harvard and was nominated for the English Guinness Award.

However, as with so many Beats, Kaufman found himself addicted to drugs, in financial strife, and in frequent trouble with the law. Then when arrested in New York City for walking on the grass of Washington Square park, he was arrested and forced to undergo electro-shock therapy. So, with the assassination of JFK, Kaufman withdrew into silence. After the end of the war in ‘Nam, he regained some creativity, but soon went into a sort of retirement until his death in 1986.

He published three volumes of poetry, Solitudes Crowded With LonelinessGolden Sardine, and Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978. He published Golden Sardines, as well as a number of chapbooks in the mid-sixties, through City Lights. He also founded Beatitude and a variety of ‘Abomunist’ texts, including theAbomunist Manifesto.


Kaufman’s poetry blends high English with street language, the structure and rhythm of African-American speech, surrealism, and the beat and improvisational qualities of jazz. He would recite his poetry aloud in the Coffee Gallery or in diners or during traffic jams, rarely writing them down, except perhaps in loose note form on napkins. Many listeners state that his best performances were done alongside a jazz musician.

Naturally, for a poet so obsessed with the orality of his poems, Kaufman’s work reflects speaking patterns – and not just through reciting his poems aloud. The words that make up his poems are everyday words, and the rhythms reflect everyday speech, in keeping with the style of Walt Whitman, although imbuing it with contemporary streetwise language.

He frequently features in volumes of African-American and avant-garde poetry, but seems forgotten in the predominantly white world of Beat history. But I guess that although he embodied Beat ideals and poetics, he was extremely unique within the bohemian world and was so occupied with new poetic ideas that he is of greater interest to more specific schools of thought than the often overarching generality of Beat literature studies. Of course, more likely than that is the fact that he preferred to not write down his poetry. Conflicting sources would have us believe that Kaufman’s wives wrote his poems down on his behalf, and also that they encouraged him to write them down himself. Either way, published collections of his work only reveal a small section of the full body.

However, although it is mostly true that he was averse to writing down his poetry, a handwritten manuscript was found by incredible fortune in the burning rubble of a hotel fire, from which Kaufman had narrowly escaped. Many of these poems went into The Ancient Rain.

But back to the poems… And Kaufman is frequently compared to twentieth century surrealist painters for his appreciation and use of strong and madly juxtaposed imagery. His use of symbolism is incredibly vivid and sensual. His Whitman-esque use of lists to build images imbued with sound, colour and feeling also draws upon Pound and W.C. Williams in its minimalist economy and effective conveyance. ‘Jazz Chick’ is a great example of such devices, and is easily available to read online.

Bukowski Stamp Update

Despite the petition falling well short of its intended 10,000 supporters, the movement to have Charles Bukowski commemorated on a U.S. postal stamp may just have been resurrected.

Beatdom reported in its old blog that fans of the late L.A.-based writer have attempted to have his image adorn a stamp by gaining 10,000 signatures on a petition. However, the final total came to a mere 1,000 and the project was deemed a loss.

Now, however, it seems that Buk might well make the cut. Richard Schave has received a letter from the U.S. Postal Service (Bukowski’s employer for many, many years, and the subject of his most famous novel, Post Office) that states: “This proposal will be submitted for review before and consideration before the Committee without a specific anniversary date.”

(See the letter here.)