Archives For August 2012

The Cyborg Life

You spend nineteen hours daily in awe of my mechanical majesty
My radiant robot face beaming light upon your spectacles
I fulfill your every desire, all information that you seek
Give a command and I’m there, though I admit an occasional glitch
Still I beg for some reciprocation—could you cleanse my robot face?
And the parts of me I use to talk can still feel that coffee stain
You’ve got me feeling bluer than my screen of death
It’s Saturday night, go out, human, and leave me to myself!

Egad, you cleansed my robot face, and my circuits feel brand new
You even turned the lights on so I have more things to view
You went out on no benders, you’ve no bigger fish to fry
Let me be your Hermes, your messenger god tonight
And as you fill my Cyclops eye, we will both sigh in delight
Like Farnsworth’s box to Americans, we will harmonize
Together we’re a cyborg, as much man as machine
Let’s enjoy our cyborg life as long as you can watch my screen.

Beatitude by Larry Closs

I’ve been meaning to give this one a read for a while now but have been too busy with other projects. When I found the time to finally start the book, I read through it in a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

I didn’t know quite what to expect. The plot was summarized thusly:

New York City, 1995: Harry Charity is a sensitive young loner haunted by a disastrous affair when he meets Jay Bishop, an outgoing poet and former Marine. Propelled by a shared fascination with the unfettered lives of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation, the two are irresistibly drawn together, even as Jay’s girlfriend, Zahra, senses something deeper developing.

Reveling in their discovery of the legendary scroll manuscript of Kerouac’s On the Road in the vaults of the New York Public Library, Harry and Jay embark on a nicotine-and-caffeine-fueled journey into New York’s smoky jazz joints, dusty rare-book shops and thriving poetry scene of slams and open-mike nights.

An encounter with “Howl” poet Allen Ginsberg shatters their notions of what it means to be Beat but ultimately and unexpectedly leads them into their own hearts where they’re forced to confront the same questions that confounded their heroes: What do you do when you fall for someone who can’t fall for you? What do you do when you’re the object of affection? What must you each give up to keep the other in your life?

Beatitude features two previously unpublished poems by Allen Ginsberg.

It sounded interesting (especially the Ginsberg poems), but had the potential to be boring. I have read too many essays about men who read Kerouac and go on a road trip.

But the book is complex, and artfully woven from a number of threads. Yes, there is the story of Harry and Jay, two men united by a love for Kerouac, but rather than have wild kicks in pursuit of their own On the Road experience, their Kerouac-connection is merely what binds them together. Their story is a classic tragedy. Harry loves Jay, but the love is unrequited. Jay’s sexuality appears – as did many of the Beats’ – somewhat fluid, whereas Harry is gay.

Their story winds along against that of Harry’s other failed shots at love, and the difficulties that are placed upon Jay’s girlfriend, Zahra, as the two men’s friendship unfolds.

Against this we have some Beat Generation history. The book kicks off with the “discovery” of one of Kerouac’s scrolls at the New York Public Library, back when it wasn’t constantly on tour. There’s a meeting with Allen Ginsberg, and reading the book, I couldn’t help but see a little of William Burroughs in Harry – from constantly putting himself into relationships where he knows he’ll get hurt, to his fondness of cats.


Read it for yourself. Available on Amazon.


And the corner angels sang,

something about Descartes

And decisions.

A swift one at the bookies

Or the same at Ronnie’s Bar,

Upon whose step they sat

Eulogising about word shapes

and if it was possible

To impart the mind of God – in a syllable or two.


And the rain had abated but the road was lustred

oil rainbows and petrol blooms

and the corner angels sang about liberty

and the cost of trust

Her hair braided and

The other – eyes heavenward

Mascara and lips all a-pout

And the change gathered like the wages of sin

Little tin at her feet

Like a dutiful dog.


Obedient and lost.


Oh little town of desperation

How sweet we see thee lie

And the corner angels sang

took smiles

And backward glances

soul eaters

Foot tapping to the mantra

Of something other than now

Hark them – their voices

Spitting in the discord

Of another ceaseless day.


Is this it?


That’s the question

and the corner angels know it

Sing of it and ask any God – every God

And all the fractured idols

fallen saints and

Reborn lovers

extinguished lives

And rekindled wives

social mores

And lazy afternoons by the TV

old newspapers from back when

And freestyle runners

soap box preachers

And politicians

Decision makers

And lifelong forsakers

Bar upon bar


Why would anyone choose silence?

The Corrupted Race of Man

I sit and watch this corrupted race of man.

All meaningless people

Doing meaningless things

For the sake of people that mean nothing to them.


Want is one thing

Greed is another.

They lie




And plan

For the mere sake of their fellow damned.


I can no longer sit here and watch young girls

Hike their skirts up

As they slip their bras down,





That “that one man” will come for them.


what you receive is entirely based upon what you gift.


The fall of man.

A Few Words From Patti Smith On Writing and Beats

On May 15, Patti Smith told us about her new record, Banga, and some of the source for the title track’s inspiration, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. We have been listening to the new music a lot, enjoying it immensely, and looking forward to seeing Patti perform on tour with Neil Young this fall. On the recording, she does a very nice version of Young’s “After The Gold Rush.”

At interview time, we were told by Columbia/Sony Entertainment that Patti could only speak about the new release and we had come prepared to ask her some ‘Beat’ questions. As you can see in the following exchange, the second part of our interview with the poet/writer/entertainer, she was gracious and more than happy to stray from the subject of the new music, which we had not had time to fully digest at the time of the talk. This is the second section of the interview. In the third, Patti tells us what she has been reading lately, what she suggests for others’ reading lists and who she would meet if allowed to travel through time. The complete interview will be printed in Beatdom, Issue Twelve – The Crime Issue.

They told me I could only ask you about your new album.

You don’t have to do that…ask what you want.

Thanks! Well, speaking of the album, you wrote the song “Nine” for Johnny Depp and I read interviews where you tell how he helped you by recording the title track, “Banga.” He was close to Allen Ginsberg, so we wondered if you met him through Ginsberg?

No…I knew Allen since I was quite young. I met Johnny when he came to one of my concerts a few years ago. We talked and then started off on Allen. We both love books and we spent a lot of time talking about [Jack] Kerouac and Dylan Thomas. Johnny has letters of [Antonin] Artaud and Dylan Thomas. We spoke a lot about literature and music and became very good friends.
A lot of our friendship is book-based.

So, about your writing process…

I am always writing…always…and always have two or three projects going simultaneously because my mind is so active…like I’m writing poems and writing little songs and am working on my detective story and some other things. So, writing is part of my daily discipline, whether it’s for my website ( or anything else I do…it’s the one consistent discipline I’ve had since I was thirteen years old that I continue to exercise every day.

I write by hand in my notebooks and on the computer. I don’t write so much on the typewriter anymore. I always loved the typewriter, but it’s so complicated to get ribbons and things, so I switched over to transcribing on computer — but I initially write in my notebooks.

Do you have favorite pens?

I have a very nice pen collection. I have been given beautiful pens by my son and daughter…I have a very nice, small white Montblanc and I have very nice old fountain pens and sometime’s it’s just a Bic. There is always some pen in my pocket but I sometimes get sentimental towards certain pens. Sometimes I just use a little Uni-Ball. It depends what’s in my pocket but I have very nice pens at home. I like those little Montblanc Mozarts. I think they are called the “Mozart Series.” They’re small, they’re a ballpoint and they have a really nice weight and you can put them in your pocket. That’s sort of my upscale pen of choice. I write with whatever’s there, though, you know?

Sometimes…if I’m on computer…well, I like to write fast and then go back and edit. I don’t like to edit as I am writing and sometimes I can get in a groove at night. When I’m writing late at night sometimes I sit at my computer and, if I’m like writing more of a rap, like if I’m doing something for my website. I usually do my website right on the computer…a lot of times it’s just sort of like rappin’ and if I’m working on a poem or something like that, I always write by hand.

Listening to “Rock N Roll Nigger,” the structure seems reminiscent of “Howl.” Was that by design?

It’s just what we did. I always acknowledge the people who influence me or inspire me but I’m not really conscious of exactly how. I just know that I’ve learned from them but I don’t consciously do a piece of work to mirror another piece – if it does, it’s just because someone else will usually pick up on it, probably subconsciously.

We read that Allen had a lot of influence on you coming out of retirement some years ago…

Allen was more influential to me when I was younger. He was just so vocal. He was so successful at marshaling people, at gathering large troops of people to speak out against the government, to strike…so that was his major influence on me.

I often talk about Allen. When you do a hundred interviews, it all depends on how they are edited. I’ve talked about Allen many times – about how, of course, he was instrumental. He called me up; called my house and inspired me. He said that I should come and let the people help me with my grieving process and let my Loved One go on his journey. I’ve talked about that on the liner notes of my record…many, many times. I’m always doing something for Allen, reading his poems…paying tribute. There is only so much you can say in one little interview but I am always grateful to Allen.

How about the other Beats?

I was very attached to William [Burroughs]. I knew Gregory, Gregory Corso, very well…and Peter Orlovsky. I met Hubert Huncke.
I was very privileged to know these people and I had different relationships with them all. Gregory was very, very important to me in my learning process of how to deliver poems live…and in my reading list.

But William was the one I was most attached to. I just adored him. I had sort of a crush on him when I was younger and he was very good to me. He really liked my singing and encouraged me to sing. He used to come to CBGB to see us and, of course, his work inspired me. Horses, the opening of Horses, with Johnny’s confrontation in the locker room, was very inspired by William’s The Wild Boys. In The Wild Boys there is also a ‘Johnny.’ My ‘Johnny’ is a continuation of William’s ‘Johnny.’

William really taught me a lot about how to conduct myself as a human being, you know? Not to compromise and to do things my way. What William always said was, “The most precious thing you ever have is your name so don’t taint it. Build your name and everything else will come. Keep your name clean.” I learned a lot from William.

Listen to Patti’s newest album “Banga” on Columbia Records and for more fun, visit her website,!