Archives For July 2012
by Matthew Levi Stevens
“According to Brion Gysin, I was an Apprentice to an Apprentice and I have never claimed otherwise. In my work I have always done absolutely what I wanted to do at the time. I have been fortunate and privileged to encounter and become friends with some incredible people.”
– Terry Wilson, Introduction to Perilous Passage
“The standardised explanation was published. I shall oppose it with heresy…”
– Charles Fort, cited at the beginning of Perilous Passage
I first met Terry Wilson 30 years ago, at the time of The Final Academy in 1982. I was something of a star-struck schoolboy who couldn’t quite believe his luck that here he was meeting William S Burroughs – and of course Terry was part of the entourage, along with manager James Grauerholz, poet John Giorno, and of course the living legend that was Brion Gysin. There was also Derek Jarman’s former boyfriend Howard Brookner, who was following the action everywhere with a camera, making his documentary Burroughs: The Movie – in much the same way that Victor Bockris had been the Court recorder at The Bunker, making With William Burroughs.
And the others are arriving, phantoms in the heat… Bedaya, imposing, resplendent with his new wave black belt guitarist Attar scowling in his wake… The Little Corporal, who has laid on this show, a shaven-headed mascara’d death dwarf in his army fatigues carrying his thermos flask filled with real English Typhoo Tea fresh from Tesco’s, Hackney, E8, giving the fish eye to Holz, his fellow entrepreneur, an enormous ageing blond boy-from-the-backwoods eyes glittering behind steel rims, disconcertingly alien and impossibly straight at the same time like at any moment he might whip out a sheaf of Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets he strides quickly up to Whelme – ‘Good to see you. And I mean that most sincerely’ he intones, most sincerely – And, travelling in his wake, The Old Man, long, thin, bent, like an ancient cantankerous, infinitely ominous arrival from another galaxy.1
Terry was there in his capacity as Brion’s informal secretary, friend, collaborator, and “apprentice to an apprentice” (as Gysin himself had said), and would also be one of the performers on the bill. He was tall and thin, in a crumpled dark blue suit, pale face fading away behind a fringe of hair, and seemed nervous, shy: on the one hand in awe of Burroughs & Gysin (older gay men, established Writer and Artist, whom he had known since 1971) – and on the other wary of all the shaven-headed acolytes circling around event organisers Genesis P-Orridge and Psychic TV:
…the Final Entrepreneur. It was a great scam but it was rather too final for him. Dim as he is these days, his huge Crowleyesque peepers are still penetrating and liable to take a really good look around inside to see what there might be that he can make use of. Even dimmer, much younger flickering ephemeral figures hover around him with dead mongoloid mutant-like features and shaved heads, dispensable and fading in the last few days…2
I have already written elsewhere about the actual circumstances of meeting William for the first time, and there is also my review of The Final Academy itself (shortly to be reprinted). The only details I will add here concern Terry’s photo in the program, Statements Of A Kind, wherein an even younger Terry peers out from beneath a heavy fringe and William’s hat, a very English-looking flat cap, and is also wearing William’s clearly rain-spattered coat, standing next to a bed on the floor (Brion’s bed?) It was taken in Brion’s apartment at rue St Martin, Paris (opposite the Pompidou), by fellow neophyte Udo Breger in December 1980. He looks strangely like a young boy trying to look more ‘grown up’ than he really is – or even feels – by dressing up in his uncle’s borrowed costume. The accompanying text reads:
THIS IS the conclusion of ‘D’ Train, a very condensed novel of 23 pages using to some extent material left over from Dreams of Green Base. It is concerned essentially with out-of-the-body experience, the necessity of leaving the ‘D’ Train before it reaches its destination, and is addressed to Philippe Baumont.3
In David Darby’s interview with Terry (published as KA by Inkblot in 1986, and then later included in the reissued Perilous Passage), he says of Dreams of Green Base that…
It was a book for boys, written by a boy
…and there is a footnote that reads:
The original subtitle of Dreams of Green Base (inadvertently omitted by the publisher) was ‘The Ideal Book for Boys’. TW.
KA also includes the following exchanges:
I was in a strange, disconnected, almost catatonic state… and I was more or less simply recording dream experience, a period of which I remember very little, thankfully.
It sounds, and reads, almost schizoid.
More than almost I think.
Does it bug you now to be identified with the Burroughs circus?
No… the ‘circus’, well you have to get the show on the road… and keep it there…4
Then in 1985-6 I was visiting London more and more, gearing up for the inevitable move – still some lingering involvement with the circles around Genesis P-Orridge, Psychic TV and ‘Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth’, but mainly encouraged by my growing friendship with Geff Rushton & Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson of Coil. Through them I became friends with Derek Jarman – also met the Poet Jeremy Reed – Kathy Acker, who was living in London at the time – the Filipino Performance Artist and Kinetic Sculptor David Medalla – became friends with the former Music Journalist Sandy Robertson (who would write The Aleister Crowley Scrapbook) – and eventually ran into Terry again. We became friendly, and he introduced me to a number of people that he knew, like Bob Cobbing, George Dowden, of course Felicity Mason, and Portuguese Artist João Penalva. It seemed obvious that when I did move to London we would see more of each other.
Right from the start it is made clear that Terry feels that his friendship with William and Brion – and, most particularly, his time spent with Brion in Paris, working on what would become Here To Go: Planet R101 – was a kind of apprenticeship, even an initiation…
But initiation into what, exactly?
Following Gysin’s death, Wilson felt isolated and cut off, and Perilous Passage was a way out of loss and despair, a magical writing making contact possible with other initiates, other minds. Third Mind techniques, including cutting-up, systematic disorientation, out of the body experiences, and the use of drugs in the transformation of the self, are all evoked…5
From the end of 1987 through to 1989 we were in pretty much weekly contact: a phone-call at the start of the week, then either a rendezvous in the West End or towards the end of the week another phone-call, co-ordinating trips to various Launches & Openings, or else just hang out – usually with a visit to his ‘local’, a gay pub, The Champion in Notting Hill.
Lancaster Gate – Notting Hill – Portobello just round the corner – could be Powis Square, the ghost of Turner passing in a phantom Rolls. The white façade of the building dazzles in the sunlight and then the front door opens at my touch as if I am expected, but Who Is There? An old Conjuror’s trick: I am in for a very different ‘performance’ here, and there will be no calling Dr Burroughs for a shot –
Then I am IN, and everything turns negative: the floor trips me and pitches me forward like a ship on storm-tossed seas, into-down-along high-ceilinged narrow hallways (“the walls are closing in”) and upstairs, don’t stop until you get to the top – a black tunnel hung with luminous calligraphies that flicker with their own light.
At the top the Sorcerer’s Apprentice appears, a shadow detached from the wall by the open door. His face swims towards me, wreathed with heavy-scented blue smoke, and the limp handshake reminds me of trying to bring like poles of two magnets together. Beyond the threshold I hear Moroccan music, as shadows dance like firelight, tinged red-orange-yellow. The flickering room, breathing, heaving…
“Uh, hi – glad you could make it. Enter freely and of your own will, and all that!”
I walk through the door into another world…6
I soon discovered that Terry was very much a creature of habit, with a weekly routine of a trip in to the West End, when he would ‘do the rounds’ of the bookshops (Books Etc. and Foyles were particular favourites.) Then down Old Compton Street to Patiserie Valerie, which had apparently been Brion’s favourite: “a little slice of Paris in the West End of London.” He very rarely ate actual meals, but would enjoy tea and the excellent cakes, and endless rounds of toast. He would point out to me the Soho newsagent where William & Brion had bought the Herald Tribune, the bars that they had used…
Always trying to REMEMBER.
…I have had to attempt – been compelled by his example to attempt – to tell a truth that, like Brion, transcends so-called fact. “A deceit in service of the truth” in the words of the Amazonian shaman Don Juan Tuesta (as quoted by Cesar Calvo, The Three Halves of Ino Moxo). “Fact” is right where you are sitting now…
I have worked principally from what are called dreams of an experience, rather than from the seeming occurrence, itself, as it were. Such is the Process. I’m not presenting what “really happened,” “factually,” because I don’t know. In fact, I don’t know if anything “really” happened at all. Do you? 7
Then back home on the tube via Notting Hill Gate, to try and write in the late afternoon in his high-ceilinged first floor apartment – which was surprisingly bare, except for a reed mat in one corner, a sturdy bureau-cum-writing desk beneath the window, a number of Gysin calligraphies and water-colours lining the walls, and on the mantelpiece a dry leaf-husk by way of a whisk for flies (in the Moroccan style.) There was a surprisingly large kitchen – equally bare and hardly used, other than to occasionally make tea, or fetch an ashtray or corkscrew and glasses – a small windowless bathroom – and a tiny monk’s cell of a bedroom: just a bed and a wardrobe, with very little in the way of clothes. Very little in the way of possessions at all, actually – other than books by William and Brion, copies of his own (of course), and an incredible archive of letters, manuscripts, and photographs…
A treasure-house of memories.
Perilous Passage focuses for the most part on events as they developed just prior to and after Brion Gysin’s death.
Ian MacFadyen has vividly described and commented on the general situation as presented herein in one of his insightful, rarely published essays…
“Phony magicians and phantom intelligence agents move in on rue St Martin, on the track of psychic power, while ‘predatory hustlers’ and ‘bloodsuckers’ emerge from under the floorboards, eager to grab a good-sized chunk of a dying artist’s estate… [The apprentice’s] initiation demands both risky out-of-the-body experiences and hazardous dealings with ‘CREEPS’, the con artists of a malign conspiracy…” 8
Our friendship develops slowly, gently, over the sharing of those memories – what little store I have to offer myself – as Terry smokes joint after joint (“Smoked transcendence is accessible to all!”), always a most generous host even with what little he has – and on some level it almost begins to feel like an education, of sorts – the next link in the chain of The Third Mind, “an experiment which failed, but which is still going on” as Brion said. Anecdotes about The Old Man/William and Bedaya/Brion – “It all reads like sci-fi from here. Not very good sci-fi, but real enough at the time” 9– and sometimes what could almost be Cautionary Tales masquerading as gossip: Antony Balch in a business suit by day, out cruising in ‘Leather Man’ drag by night… and how the last time he visited poor ‘Lost Boy’ Mikey Portman, he was whipping himself with a studded leather belt, shouting “Victory to Aleister Crowley!”, all beneath the poker-faced gaze of his decorators…
I get the distinct impression that Terry is wary, to say the least, of those who actively identify as Occultists, the seeming ubiquity of post-Crowleyan Theory & Practice. At one point he cautions me about “the company of predatory ‘magical’ thinkers” – “What, ‘magick’ with a ‘k’?” I ask – “Yeh…” he sighs. This is perhaps inherited from Brion, who I think was pretty dismissive of Aleister Crowley as a “queen bee”, and the “drones” who are such eager followers (he was not impressed with Kenneth Anger’s ‘box of tricks’, when he met him in the 60s) Besides, he preferred an older, wilder ‘magic’, whose passing he still mourned:
It was almost closing time for Magical Morocco. Electronic mind control was moving in and the Djnoun forces would soon be in full retreat gems to be snapped up before they disappear forever. Spells and curses. Dance and trance. The Other Method was up for grabs.10
He likes to talk about Charles Fort – says that Burroughs was more aware of (and influenced by) him than he would admit. Reads Buchan, The Power House, draws some strange comfort from the famous lines “You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilisation from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass.” For my part, I try to be helpful, copying tapes of Brion that I have from the archives of PTV and Coil – typing up articles – bringing books that we talk about, that he is interested in: the recent works by Castaneda (clearly a major influence) – books on Hassan-i Sabbāh and his Assassins – from the British Museum a copy of ‘The Dispute Between A Man And His Ba’ that William has recommended – also the wonderfully titled The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes – all of which feed into our discussions, and our writings. Usually I bring along a bottle of wine. He particularly likes French reds…
Why was someone like Bedaya surrounded by such awful people?
I don’t know anybody who isn’t surrounded by awful people…
Fear of being alone…11
He has almost finished the follow-up to ‘D’ Train, a novel about his apprenticeship to ‘Massa Bedaya’ that William has suggested he call “Perilous Passage” (after a WWII thriller about the French Resistance, that was made into a rather trashy film with Anthony Quinn, James Mason, and Malcolm MacDowell.) Terry also rather likes the idea of “The Nervous System”. He later has this to say about his three books, which he loosely conceives of as a trilogy:
In these accounts I am not so much trying to detail a teaching method, a virtual impossibility in the case of the allusive and elusive “Massa Bedaya” (Brion resolutely refused to “teach”, without ever ceasing to do so), but rather to describe the effects of what he called the Process on those concerned, most particularly myself. 12
Later I interview Terry – he wants to get his story down, and I will try and get it out. Down… and out. Hmm… Badly cut versions do later appear, in small fanzines mostly relating to the emerging ‘Chaos Magic’ scene. The irony is not lost on us.
My books are an account of my apprenticeship under the tutelage of a master practitioner: Brion Gysin. – I was, as I have written, an eager – wanting – volunteer on the shining path. Brion, legendary “avant garde” maestro, peerless painter/writer-inventor/mentor was an accomplished shaman.13
At one point he is invited to contribute to a compilation tape that will accompany yet another small magazine, and asks if I will help him make a Spoken Word recording. He reads (You Hear Me Now?) from the manuscript of what will become Perilous Passage, and I add sound effects of telephone crackle and interference, shortwave and static. He seems very pleased with the results, but I don’t know if it ever actually got used; certainly neither of us received a copy…
I have to take control of this goddamn situation Bedaya has left behind. No one else can do the job… My “allies” for the most part are devious, unreliable, or plain bone stupid. Sometimes all three. Bedaya’s legacy.14
(You Hear Me Now?) is a study in paranoia, intrigue, confusion – of purpose, place, persona – as an unnamed narrator, presumably ‘Toller Whelme’ from ‘D’ Train (who is ‘really’ Terry Wilson) gets an ominous phone call at 4 a.m. “A hoarse, whispering voice” – one ‘J’ (who is presumably ‘really’ James Kennedy McCann) – rings to say “I’ve seen Bedaya, I’ve talked to him…” (‘Bedaya’, who is ‘really’ Brion Gysin – even though he has presumably been dead for a while at this point.) Spy thriller exchanges about attempts on his life are mixed – no, Cut-Up – with the question “How do we escape from Time?” – the answer being “…Hassan I Sabbah’s programme…” The narrator comments: “Well… I think it’s still in operation… You know we intend to continue by means of the Third Mind…” Then ‘J’ asks about “the other J” (presumably ‘really’ James Grauerholz) – “You know he controls the Old Man…?” (‘really’ William S Burroughs) – and it is suggested that he works for the C.I.A. – and we are back where we started, in a midnight mystery pulp espionage escapade…
The plot couldn’t get any thicker if it tried.
I’d like to emphasis this point about the Third Mind – Bedaya wasn’t fooling around, talking about this marvellous thing forever. It was necessary to produce some actual physical product. Immediately we made contact he got right onto the job. In other words, words were necessary, but he controlled and channelled them.15
Inspired by a certain recurring detail in ‘D’ Train – and partly in response to the emerging ‘Acid House’ scene – I record Terry reading the line “The Body 24 Hours Is Frivolously Dancing” and cut-it-up over a House beat, complete with tape-loops of Jajouka and a TB303 bassline.
The New Year starts warmly, a copy of ‘D’ Train dedicated “For Matthew with all best wishes for 89 and forever”, but over the next couple of years things start to become strained. Former ‘psychick youths’ that I have introduced to Terry and personally vouched for let us down – let him down – take advantage of him, he feels (and don’t even get the quotes or spellings right, or give credit where credit is due!) His health deteriorates – people begin to avoid him, suspecting HIV or junk, although of course it is neither…
“Maybe to’ve opened ourselves up to all those dreadful spaces with all those drugs wasn’t such a good idea…” 16
I have begun a sort of ‘Third Mind’ collaboration of my own with a young friend – William sees early drafts, and generously comments that it is “Accurate and honest… Young boys need it special. They may even listen.” Unfortunately exactly the same words he had written to Terry with regard to ‘D’ Train. There is perhaps for the first time a sense of competition.
Walking by the side of a large body of water, the sun beating down on me, dazzling me. Not really sure where I am, things seem… through a heat-haze, the figure of a man coming towards me: tall and thin, just sort of drifting along as if his feet aren’t quite touching the ground. As he draws nearer I recognise the crumpled dark blue suit, pale face fading away behind a fringe of hair – it is Toller. His usually nervous, haunted looking face bears a more relaxed expression and he smiles, reaching out to shake hands (as ever, I am reminded of trying to bring like poles of two magnets together)
“Hello! Well fancy meeting you here!”
“You’re looking well… Where exactly is ‘here’?”
I study Toller’s face for clues. He looks a little flushed, like he’s been drinking, or maybe it’s just the heat.
The heat… I start losing track of what Toller is saying, his words drifting off as my head swims… suddenly I feel faint, like it’s all too hot and hazy and I can’t… faint voices in the distance, “watch me as I unwind in droplets and flashes of tomorrow” – like going under anaesthetic, or… confused memories of hospitals, dying – dreams and conversations I haven’t had yet. The last thing I hear him say is:
“How’s your young man coming along?”
(It is to be remembered that the Ka usually reaches adolescence at the time of bodily death, and is the same sex as the subject)
This morning a note arrives from Toller: he’s just got back after being in Paris and then going down to Milan with Vogue, where they stayed at the Lake Como resort. He says he has something for me, something that we will need to continue…
I decide to ring and tell him about my dream, and about what I have been seeing in the mirror.
“We have six thousand million years to travel but where will it take us?” he says, not really expecting an answer. “So the Old Man and I drew in the nets…” He talks in his sleep (someone has taught him how.)
“Last night I dreamt that there was this voice trying to write a book in my head. All I had to do was write down what it said, like taking dictation, but it was going too fast…”
Unlike me he seems to have little trouble remembering his dreams (someone has taught him how.) 17
He is diagnosed with M.E., but not everybody even accepts yet that it is a ‘real illness’. The press joke about this new ‘Yuppie Flu’, which doesn’t help. There are endless delays concerning Brion’s Will, his Estate – French red-tape – and in the meantime energy levels are at an all-time low, friends are scarce, money is tight…
There was a conspiracy to wipe out Bedaya and myself… Of course they intend to do everything they can to stop me getting any of that money. But the whole thing is part of a bigger scene – a big power battle, to neutralise and assimilate a lifetime of psychic power into three-dimensional financial manipulative areas.18
I have troubles of my own: relationships unravelling, projects that don’t materialise – for me too money is tight, and my health also begins to suffer… Terry leaves town to avoid the Notting Hill Carnival, begins to spend time with his parents in Southampton. His father cannot understand how as a writer with three books in print he has no money. Terry can hardly get out of bed, browses Buchan and Charles Fort, lets daytime TV wash over and through him… all the old movies. The grandfather who I grew up with has a stroke, I have to drop everything and try and help out. We lose touch…
Terry later said of this time:
“…I found myself in West End, in Southampton, and I just became extremely receptive, as if everything I read or heard or saw on T.V. was streaming right through me…” 19
In 1992 I hear about The ‘Here To Go’ Show in Dublin, and although I am with them in spirit, I am not in a position to go anywhere. For me, the ‘Perilous Passage’ is over – and, for Terry, despite the apparent promise of those years – the ‘Irish Connection’ – new adventures across Europe, reunited with Phillippe, trips to North Africa – and the whole ‘crazy wisdom’ that would inspire The Nervous System – the underworld patron and sponsor he had inherited from Brion, James Kennedy McCann, is finally arrested on Conspiracy & Drug-Trafficking charges in Dusseldorf while they are travelling together, leaving Terry quite literally high and dry…
He assured me that everything would be okay… “As long as you have the strength to survive this initiation…” 20
His next book would not come out until 2004.
So, eventually, the book with the 16 year gestation and 3 separate titles – Perilous Passage, The Nervous System and The Universe In Other Words – finally sees the light of day thanks to psychedelic environmentalists Synergetic Press of Santa Fe, New Mexico, but the first limited edition barely registers – nowhere stocks it, you can’t get it online, and there aren’t even any reviews. Is it too late for The Other Method? Has The Third Mind become occluded from the Time Space continuum? Having lost my old address books, I have no way of getting in touch with Terry again, and no longer know anybody that would know him, how he is, or how to get in touch with him…
“Wilson has described Cut Up as a form of ‘exorcism’. A narrative illusion is broken and the end result is intended as an act of magic…” – David Darby
Do you think of writing as an act of magic?
Well, I think it is.21
One has to wonder what it is exactly that Terry was seeking so desperately to exorcise… At times he seemed to be a haunted man, but a man haunted by that which he himself has conjured up – continually attempts to conjure up – until he is like some strange hybrid of slightly displaced Son-and-Heir & Post-Modern Mariner who cannot help but tell his tale – except it isn’t really ‘his’ tale, or at least not his alone: like the Professional Widow, the tale which Toller tells is more about someone else than it is himself – even in his absence, Massa Bedaya-Brahim-Brion Gysin is still the main subject of Terry’s writing. And in one very real sense his most recent book is – like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando – one long love letter, except that it is addressed to a ghost. After surviving his Perilous Passage, experiencing The Nervous System, and even discovering The Universe In Other Words, Terry Wilson as ‘Toller Whelme’ concludes:
“I simply did not remember Brion in the usual sense. To do so – to really remember him – requires an enormous effort of recapitulation because what he taught is not accessible to ordinary consciousness. The only way to reach him is to follow him there. What on earth really happened to me? What techniques? Where is everybody? Who can say? Not me.” 22
Tellingly, the ‘Introduction Dreams of BG’ opens with the following, a clue perhaps:
“It is important to know that the world is held together by unresolved contradictions.” – Brion Gysin
And finally, Coming To Now, In Present Time:
There is a second edition, hopefully more readily available. There was a Launch at The October Gallery, there are Reviews online, and Ian MacFadyen (who writes an Introduction to this new edition, again from the good people at Synergetic Press) has worked pretty tirelessly to help get the ‘circus’ back on the road – including a lengthy, in-depth conversation with Terry, ‘Cutting Up For Real’, which is sure to become the definitive statement. It actually explains more about Gysin, his ‘Other Method’, and Terry’s adventures than any of his books manage to do, and should be read alongside them, perhaps as a kind of key. It opens with a reference to the end of my 1988 interview with Terry ‘Soul-to-Soul’, concerning Irish Coffee and “the beginning of a new age” – but for some reason un-credited – so for me at least something has come full circle here.
It seems fitting to close with the words of the Master himself, which is of course in a way where it all begins. In Brion Gysin’s novel The Process, during a pilgrimage across the Sahara in search of Initiation, his narrator comes to the following realisation:
I alone of all these Assassins had ever been foolish enough to conceive of happiness… There is no friendship: there is no love. The desert knows only allies and accomplices. The heart, here, is all in the very moment. Everything is bump and flow; meet and good-by. Only the Brotherhood of Assassins ensures ritual continuity, if that is what you want and some do; for the lesson our zikr teaches is this: There are no Brothers.23
1: from ‘Who Are They? (Time after Time)’, p.78 of ‘D’ Train, Grapheme, 1985
2: from ‘Crossing the Border’, p.40 of ‘D’ Train, Grapheme, 1985
3: from p.51 of The Final Academy: Statements Of A Kind, 1982
4: David Darby – KA: An interview with Terry Wilson, Inkblot, 1986
5: Ian MacFadyen – note to the reissue of Perilous Passage, Synergetic, 2012
6: Matthew Levi Stevens – Operation Rewrite, Synapse, 1989
7+8: from ‘Introduction Dreams of BG’, Perilous Passage, Synergetic, 2012
9: William S Burroughs, The Western Lands, Viking Penguin Inc., 1987
10: from ‘The Man From Nowhere’, p.49 of Perilous Passage, Synergetic, 2012
11: from ‘We Are Very Close’, pp.46-7 of Perilous Passage, Synergetic, 2012
12+13: from ‘Introduction Dreams of BG’, Perilous Passage, Synergetic, 2012
14: from ‘Fire’, p.39 of Perilous Passage, Synergetic, 2012
15: from ‘I Am Here… (?)’, p.63 of Perilous Passage, Synergetic, 2012
16: Brion Gysin to William S Burroughs, towards the end, rue St Martin, Paris
17: Matthew Levi Stevens & David Lengui – The Speed of Light, Synapse, 1988
18: from ‘I Am Here… (?)’, p.60 of Perilous Passage, Synergetic, 2012
19: Ian MacFadyen – Terry Wilson: Cutting Up For Real, Reality Studio, 2012
20: from ‘St Lazare’, p.15 of Perilous Passage, Synergetic, 2012
21: Matthew Levi Stevens – Soul-to-Soul: talking to Terry Wilson, interview 1988
22: from‘The Nervous System’, 10% File Under Burroughs, Sub Rosa, 1996
23: Brion Gysin – The Process, Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1969
We certainly hope that you like to look at pictures – because this is about as many as we think we can squeeze into a single post.
The idea is to show that, while the ebook and kindle formats are handy, Beatdom is still fun to have your own personal copy of, like in the old days of the literary journal, when you stuck it in your pocket or bag and pulled it out to read while on the bus, at the doctor’s office or in a crowded movie theater while some delinquent threw JuJubes in your hair.
While we all know you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, anybody who is familiar with French poet Arthur Rimbaud and the poem, ‘After The Deluge,’ from his earth-shattering collection ‘Illuminations,’ will spot him right away, That is thanks to the keen handiwork of multi-faceted artist Waylon Bacon, who graced the front cover of this issue with his brilliant dexterity and use of color.
It is a treat to get to see him do something for us in deep rich tones, since he has had to restrain himself to using black and white ever since we changed the format to that of the classic, standard old-style 6×9-inch black and white format, used by most literary journals.
In the following story by Katy Gurin, ‘Grizzly Bear,’ you can see more of Waylon’s work, only in the b/w format. This is still another excellent short story by Katy, about what can happen when people commune a little too closely with nature. This tale showcases her usual splendid imagination and wonderful gift for detail. Stuck in between there, shown on the back cover, since most people look at the front and back before opening it, is the advertisement for the next fiction release from Beatdom Books, ‘Egypt Cemetery,’ a memoir by Editor Michael Hendrick, which will be available soon at the usual outlets.
It is also worth noting that Katy will be publishing a full volume of her short stories with Beatdom Books, later this year. That volume will be illustrated by Waylon, since the two of them make such a great team for two people who have never even met each other. As Katy’s story continues the partygoers dressed as bears start to act more like bears just for the drunken fun of it.
Waylon not only provided the fine images you see here – but also managed to include some of his favorite monsters, like Frankenstein’s monster, his Bride, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Phantom of the Opera, and some weird looking what-cha-ma-callits, that only he sees when he closes his eyes at night.
Bears like to catch fish but fishtank owners are not always appreciative. As you can see, our half-drunk pseudo-bears wander out into the Halloween night and do all the things bears are wont to do, until they are confronted by a real bear. How Katy thinks this stuff up is a mystery to us but we have been lucky enough to have her writing such inventive stories with truly absorbing plots since she was kind enough to provide us with her very first and fabulous yarn, ‘Meat From Craigslist,’ back in Issue Number Nine.
Next we have a look at the life of William S. Burroughs during his days as a farmer, written by Editor David S. Wills. Burroughs didn’t do so well working the land but Mr. Wills has been farming up quite a bit of information on the pistol-happy author while lurking about the Burroughs Archives at the New York City Public Library lately. Watch for more!
Somehow, archaeologist, activist and Beatdom regular Robin Como managed to find time to write two more of her intoxicatingly exquisite poems for your pleasure and if she doesn’t run away, we hope to have her back with more in our next issue!
Michael Hendrick tracked down Shelton Hank Williams, aka Hank Williams III, aka Hank3, on Thanksgiving Day morning last year, forcing him to hold a copy of Beatdom Issue Nine and interviewing him on topics ranging from going to Hell, to how his grandfather wrote one of the first recorded rock songs before rock’n’roll was invented, to the Right to Bear Arms.
Taking time out from his extensive studies, returning writer Rory Feehan penned this account of still another famous sharp-shooter, Hunter S. Thompson and his ventures and misadventures while living a not so quiet existence at perhaps California’s favorite Beat retreat, Big Sur.
While everybody was awaiting the release of the film version of Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road,’ Mr. Wills tracked down the last remaining live male character depicted in the movie, Al Hinkle, who Kerouac called Ed Dunkel in the book. Mr. Hinkle is delighted to appear here.
Assistant Editor Kat Hollister, who labored intensively to help put this issue together marked her first appearance in Beatdom with the poem you see below; her efforts were rewarded by the dubious distinction of having it placed across from a poem by returning Beat literate Chuck Taylor, on the dodgy subject of his erection. Mr. Taylor dug up the old form of ‘doggerel’ to justify it, along with the fact that we are the only journal who would risk publishing it.
Where have you seen this face before? On the cover, it’s Arthur Rimbaud again, next to an essay by poet Larry Beckett, who takes apart the aforementioned poem, ‘After The Deluge.’ It is an insightful look at one of Rimbaud’s best know works, and also gives us a glimpse at the fantastic style of literary critique to be found in Mr. Beckett’s upcoming offering from Beatdom Books, ‘Beat Poetry.’
Matthew Levi Stevens is a new name to Beatdom readers and here he presents us with a review of the latest collection of letters written by William S. Burroughs when he was still living as an expatriate.
Kat Hollister, following the indignity of having her poem placed facing Mr. Taylor’s doggerel, was happy to find a spot next to this wonderful photograph, ‘wetlands in march no.2,’ by well-known nature photographer, g. thompson higgins.
Artist/Photographer/Musician and Writer, Zeena Schreck returned again this issue, with this touching and enlightening article. She writes of how she and multi-talented husband, Nikolas Schreck, stepped up and acted to save the lives of eighty wolves, diverting their carriage to safe habitat as they were being sent to an otherwise slow and cruel death.
Ann Charters, a name familiar to everybody in the world of Beat Literature and Literary History spoke with Mr. Hendrick, on working with Kerouac, the beginnings of Beat, her meeting with Alene Lee and the importance of John Clellon Holmes to the Beat Generation.
Internationally renowned poet Michael Shorb, a strong voice on environmental issues, was kind enough to grace our pages with this, his first appearance in Beatdom.
Reaching past Rimbaud to William Blake, Mr. Wills weighs in with a quick word on the literary influence of one of the most visionary of voices and his influence on the Beats.
When we think of Beat we think of the road and it is hard to think of a band who pounded the pavement harder than the Ramones. Richie Ramone, the fastest of the fast, spoke with Mr. Hendrick about life on the road, his forays into the Big Band sounds of the Drum Gods and his activism on behalf of pooches in peril in Los Angeles.
As usual, Waylon won’t go back into his cage until he gets one last bite on the hand the doesn’t feed him, so we leave you with him and his now traditional ‘last page, last word.’ This one, Waylon aptly titled ‘Sometimes Eye Gets Crazy!’
MRT and UMASS LOWELL ANNOUNCE TICKET INFORMATION FOR
TICKETS GO ON SALE JULY 26 AT NOON
ONLY 2,000 TICKETS AVAILABLE
Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the University of Massachusetts Lowell announced today that tickets for the world premiere staged reading of Jack Kerouac’s “Beat Generation” will go on sale Thursday, July 26 at noon. Tickets start at $40 and can be purchased at MRT.org or by calling the MRT box office at 978-654-4678. The centerpiece of the 2012 Jack Kerouac Literary Festival, “Beat Generation” runs for eight performances only Oct. 10 through Oct. 14. “Beat Generation” will be performed in MRT’s intimate, newly-renovated 279 seat theatre. Order early – only a limited number of tickets will be available to this once-in-a-lifetime literary event.
“Beat Generation” is a story of friendship and karma set in the 1950s and its characters and dialogue capture the Beat mentality at the roots of American counterculture as only Kerouac could. Written in the author’s trademark autobiographical style, the play follows a group of friends based on Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg and others over the course of one day in 1955. The play’s premiere is being presented in Lowell with the support and collaboration of Kerouac Literary Estate representative John Sampas.
“It is apt that the premiere production of Jack Kerouac’s play ‘Beat Generation’ shall take place in his hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts in October at Merrimack Repertory Theatre under the guidance of the inimitable director Charles Towers,” Sampas said.
The 2012 Jack Kerouac Literary Festival will be held Oct. 10 through Oct. 14 by UMass Lowell, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, the Cultural Organization of Lowell and other community partners and features a variety of programs inspired by Kerouac’s works and life in Lowell showcasing prominent contemporary authors. The festival’s theme this year is “Writing and Music” and will offer unique programs including singer-songwriter Tanya Donelly (of Throwing Muses, The Breeders and Belly) and writer Rick Moody (“The Ice Storm” and “On Celestial Music and Other Adventures in Listening”) discussing experimentation with the line between making music and writing prose, as well as events with authors such as Joe Blair (“By the Iowa Sea”) and David Kaiser (“How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture and the Quantum Revival”) and poets Tom Sexton (“Bridge Street at Dusk”) and Anne Waldman of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. A reception and book-signing will be held for “Young Angel Midnight: An Emerging Generation in Lowell,” the award-winning anthology featuring two dozen UMass Lowell alumni, as well as screenings of films with Kerouac connections, literary discussions, bus and walking tours of Kerouac sites around Lowell, musical performances by Kerouac contemporaries like David Amram, art exhibits and more. For a full schedule, visit www.uml.edu/artsandideas.
“Beat Generation” is sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Lowell with additional support from 92.5 The River. MRT is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
“BEAT GENERATION” PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
ABOUT JACK KEROUAC
Born Jean-Louis Kerouac in 1922, Kerouac is Lowell’s most famous native son. He was a football star at Lowell High School and was awarded a scholarship to Columbia University. However, Kerouac was unhappy in college and after his father lost his printing business, he dropped out of school. During World War II, he joined the Merchant Marine and became friends with Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Kerouac wrote his first novel, “The Town and the City,” about his struggle to balance the expectations of his family with his unconventional life, which was published in 1950 with Ginsberg’s help. Kerouac took several cross-country trips with Cassady during this time, which became the basis for his most famous work, “On The Road.” The manuscript – presented to his editor on a single, unbroken roll of paper, the scroll that was later exhibited to record crowds in Lowell – was rejected and six years would pass before it was published in 1957. In the years in between, Kerouac followed Ginsberg and Cassady to San Francisco and the term “Beat Generation,” which Kerouac coined, gained popularity. When Kerouac finally broke through with the release of “On The Road,” he was faced with challenges presented by the fame that followed as he tried to live up to the image portrayed in his novels and facing criticism from the literary establishment for being part of what was considered a fad. He would go on to publish additional novels, many of which used settings based on Lowell – including “Doctor Sax,” “The Subterraneans,” “The Dharma Bums” and his final great work, “Big Sur.” He settled in Florida with his wife, Stella Sampas, and his mother, where he died in 1969 at age 47. He was buried in Lowell.
Even after his death, Kerouac’s popularity continues. “On The Road” has remained widely read and a new film adaptation of the novel starring Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Kerouac was named one of the most important figures of the 20th century by LIFE Magazine and The Times of London and interest in Kerouac has grown with the publication of his letters, poetry, spiritual writings, early novels and more from his remarkable literary archive. He has been cited as an influence by countless writers and musicians, including The Doors. A 2005 forum in New York featured a reading of a passage from “Beat Generation” by actor Ethan Hawke, but to date, the play has yet to be staged in its entirety.
ABOUT THE PRODUCERS
Founded in 1979 by a group of committed civic leaders, Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s mission is “to advance the cause of human understanding by creating theatrical productions at the highest level of artistic excellence and making them affordable to the broadest possible community.” Merrimack Rep’s unique artistic vision is shaped by a passion for excellence and a profound commitment to its community. It strives to enhance the community’s quality of life while contributing to its economic strength, measuring success by the depth of the company’s artistic and social contribution to the region.
A member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), MRT has received hundreds of awards and accolades, including recognition in American Theatre Magazine, The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine and The New York Times for artistic excellence and its contribution to the community. MRT’s history comprises more than 210 productions including 16 world premieres and 34 regional premieres, contributing significantly to the canon of the American theater and bringing new plays to audiences throughout New England. Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2012-2013 season is sponsored by LowellBank. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. For details on MRT’s season information, show times, tickets, directions or to request a brochure, visit MRT.org or call 978-654-4MRT (4678).
UMass Lowell is a comprehensive, national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 15,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, management, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. www.uml.edu
This is the cover for an exciting new version of Jack Kerouac’s classic Book of Haikus. The writing on the cover is Persian and this is the first time the book has been translated for publication in Iran. It’s always great to see Kerouac’s work published in other languages as the rest of the world is treated to his prose and poetry.
It was translated by Alireza Abiz and released March 2012.
Here’s a cool video of Allen Ginsberg talking with Conan O’Brien from 1994. The quality is poor but he sings a great little song called “Put Down Yr Cigarette Rag”.
In the late 1980s, William S. Burroughs and Tom Waits collaborated on a musical called The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets. In 1990 it was performed on Austrian TV, and here’s the rip that was recently released on YouTube…
Bungalow Bill and them barbershop buzzards
Great soot! the Tigers roam free
Do not forget me, Mag up on the wall
The Tigers will deframe your effigy
Psycho jungle cats need thirty lashes
Holden Coffin to the Nylon King
Tea to effin’, four new tatas
Tea I double don’t curr for deeez caaats
Do not forget me, Marg up on the wall
The Tigers will deframe your effigy.
The creation is almost done. He makes a few adjustments to his equipment, then fiddles with some gadgets. The air is static and the storm rages. Sparks fly and the energy is frightening. Ygor hides in the shadows, watching him and giggling maniacally at what is about to be set loose upon the unsuspecting world. Sweat rolls down his forehead, what appears to be a grimace is suddenly changed to a smile as the corners of his mouth turn, trembling upward into a demonic smile. Tension mounts. The lightning strikes. Sparks fly.
His eyes widen in a cross between dementia and joy.
“It’s alive,” he says softly.
“It’s alive,” he repeats, voice raising in horrific excitement.
“It’s alive!” he shouts, raising his fists, as if to challenge God in his demonic triumph!
Seen this before? Then you were probably in the studio of Waylon Bacon, Beatdom‘s own beloved illustrator who has helped bring issue after issue to life with his drawings, illustrations and the marvelous cover art he produced for the cover of our latest issue; the colorful image/interpretation of the classic Arthur Rimbaud poem, “After the Flood.” You thought we we referring to Colin Clive in Frankenstein, and we may just as well have been, given Waylon’s predisposition to horror, zombies, drooling ghouls and famous monsters of the film world.
Our talented Mr. Bacon is a true modern Renaissance Man. Besides his delightful work in Beatdom, he has established himself as a well-respected and renowned filmmaker; amazing his fans regularly with screenings at the San Francisco Underground Short Film Festival, the Berkeley Short Film Festival, the Comic Con International Film Festival, the B Movie Underground & Trash Film Festival in the Netherlands, and the Fright Night Horror Film Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. He is currently working on filming his first foray into the music video realm, which can be a horror in itself, and also is a regular monthly contributor to Cinesource Magazine, with cartoons on the subject of filmmaking.
Any true fan of the horror film genre is familiar with FANGORIA (the First in Fright since 1979) and the magazine’s David Pace interviewed Waylon last year. On the big screen, Waylon’s first notable effort was his storyboarding and conceptualization for the 2012 flick Excision, which not only went on to play at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, but which also includes appearances by such well-known names as Traci Lords, Malcolm McDowell, Marlee Matlin and the most awesome John Waters…acting out scenes originally sketched by Waylon!
While we do not have any of his horror-related work on hand to show you, it can easily be found on his website, www.waylonbacon.com, which has a little misinformation about Beatdom on it, but we have to forgive him for that or else he may bite us in the neck! No one-trick-pony, his work is magificently detailed, as seen on the cover of our latest, Issue Eleven, where anybody familiar with classic French poetry can spot the image of Rimbaud from across a crowded room and identify the subject. Another example of his fine eye for detail is this terrific illustration of Lenny Bruce, which he produced for our Issue Ten.
Look at the fine detail. Note the covers of Lenny’s albums in the background, painstakingly copied to perfection by his coffee-stained fingers. It is a truly remarkable piece of art, and how could you expect anything less? We have paired him up with our short story writers, and in doing so, all readers, especially readers of the print edition where you can truly see the magnificence of his craft, get to experience images such as the one below.
From our talented Katy Gurin’s story, “Meat From Craigslist”:
Here is another from the same story…
Or this one, from “Forever Stung,” a short story by Beatdom Editor Michael Hendrick…
We could go on forever because his body of work is so voluminous for a man his age, but we highly recommend that you go to www.waylonbacon.com to view his short films there and look at his other work. View his films: Help Wanted, My Worst Nightmare, Bob and Poster Boy. Marvel at his work. As Bad Lit: The Journal of Underground Film said, “When it comes to creating sickening nightmares, it’s hard to top San Francisco-based filmmaker Waylon Bacon.”
And so we leave you with one final piece from Beatdom, where we have given Waylon the last page of every issue to do whatever he wants. It is a more serious piece from Issue Ten, the Religion Issue. We posted this to let you all know that Waylon is not the creepy, ghoulish, horrific, frightening, insanely maniacal, drunken drug addict that he appears to be – we set the record straight on that – he does NOT take drugs.
Beatdom wishes Waylon the best in all of his endeavors, but we like the ones he does for us the best!
AFTERWORD: Well, folks, when we wrote this post we did not have any of Waylon’s color work available. As you all know, Beatdom assumed the format of more traditional literary journals starting with Issue Nine, and these next couple images are from a short story by the esteemed educator, photographer and writer, Chuck Taylor. While the traditional format is handier and fits in a pocket or handbag, we do miss seeing the work of Waylon in color. While his art is incomparable and uniquely original, we like to think that his color work evokes the spirit of a demented Walt Disney channeling through R. Crumb…but the style is really 100% Waylon Bacon.
We offer these samples for your guaranteed enjoyment. They appeared in Beatdom Issue Eight, the Sex Issue, complimenting Mr. Taylor’s great story, “Whores Who Were My Friends.”
We trust you will dig these!
The first is titled Sex For Free and the second is Hundred Dollars.