Archives For November 2012

1st Burroughs Documentary to be Rereleased

The first long feature documentary about iconic writer William S. Burroughs, one of the most radically subversive literary figures of the 20th century and Godfather to the Beat poets such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, is set to be restored and re-released after decades of being out of print.

The campaign to restore Burroughs: The Movie will officially be launched on Kickstarter on World Aids Day December 1st 2012 and it will run for 30 days. A rare screening of the film will be held December 11th 2012 at 7pm at the October Gallery in London, UK (24 Old Gloucester Street Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AL).

The late Howard Brookner began his Burroughs film while in NYU film school in 1978 with his fellow students Jim Jarmusch, who did the sound, and Tom DiCillo on camera.  Five years later Brookner had finished Burroughs: The Movie with the help of BBC.

Burroughs: The Movie was Howard Brookner’s first of three feature length films followed by Robert Wilson and the Civil Wars (1986) and Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989) – starring Madonna, Matt Dillon and Jennifer Grey among other well known actors. He died of AIDS in 1989, at thirty-four years old. “If I live on it is in your memories and the films I made”, he wrote in a letter he left to his parents. “That letter was my engine to bring Howard back to life through his work. After a long search I found the only print of Burroughs: The Movie in good condition and embarked on a project to remaster it and make it available to the public”, says Aaron Brookner, nephew of the filmmaker. “The remastering is part of the work I want to do to preserve my uncle’s legacy”.  Howard Brookner’s archive includes more than 300 assets that need urgent preservation. “The re-release of Burroughs is a first step towards recovering what he made while he was alive.”

‘Burroughs: The Movie’ features the writer’s close circle of friends including Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, Francis Bacon, John Giorno, James Grauerholz and Terry Southern. The film premiered at the 1983 New York Film Festival to rave reviews. Janet Maslin from The New York Times wrote: “Rarely is a documentary as well attuned to its subject as Howard Brookner’s “Burroughs”, which captures as much about the life, work and sensibility of its subject as its 86 minute format allows. (T)he quality of discovery about “Burroughs” is very much the director’s doing, and Mr. Brookner demonstrates an unusual degree of liveliness and curiosity in exploring his subject”.

February 5, 2014 will mark William S. Burroughs 100th Birthday and the film should be released by then. Also 2013 will mark the 30th Anniversary since the release of Burroughs: The Movie and that’s when the restoration will take place.

Howard Brookner’s archive collection contains never before seen material from Burroughs: The Movie including interviews with Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, Frank Zappa, Brion Gysin, the legendary Nova Convention, Brian Jones, Anthony Balch and more. “He documented what was probably the last comprehensive counter culture movement which came out of downtown New York City in the late 1970s/early 80s, influencing so many of the leading styles and ideas of today,” says Aaron Brookner.





Beyond the restoration of the Burroughs film, any proceedings beyond the target funding will be used to restore and preserve Howard Brookner’s archive described by Francis Poole, head of Film and Video Collection at the University of Delaware, as “one of the most amazing collections I have ever seen”.  Aaron Brookner, who is also a filmmaker, plans to create a film about his uncle’s life called Smash The Control Machine: Howard Brookner & the Western Lands using much of the found footage. “Howard is a strong inspiration and he lived a short but beautiful life full of sardonic wit.  He was a great filmmaker and this discovery will allow the world to enjoy his work. I want to honour who he was through the memories of those he influenced, and the films he made.”

To finance the restoration project, a crowdfunding campaign will be launched on Kickstarter to raise USD 20.000 (approx 13.000 British Pounds or 16.000 Euros).

For more information about the campaign to restore Burroughs: The Movie, Smash the Control Machine film and Howard Brookner’s archive please visit




To contribute to the Kickstarter Project, please click here

Follow its progress on Facebook here.

Freeform fuckup

Here we are again labias and genitals let loose from our own personalized bondage to attempt once
more to find the ending to this fire ant’s farm of unreasonable and otherwise unseasonable coughing
fits in this the generic over the counter logic known as the “one and only way” in order to find some
truth within the guidelines set to soggy bass lines in a free form treasure map titled ”untied until tilted “
where clearly scribbled in measure 138 are the rules to total happiness which are stated as followed you
are born you are learned then you are burned oh wait a goddamn minute wasn’t there supposed to be
something about being happy in there oh well

Dig This ~ Ann and Samuel Charters Read Beat Poetry

We found this while doing some research on the Charters’ Book, “Brother-Souls:John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation. It has only had 79 views so far, so enjoy something new!!!

Read a review of their book and learn about John Clellon Holmes and Jack Kerouac in Beatdom 12!!!

It is published on the University Press of Mississippi. Buy a copy on Amazon or at the usual outlets. It is one of the best Beat reads you will ever find!

you’ll know what to do when I say

I believe in mystery
and tonight I believe in tiny bottles of red wine
and David Byrne
and waiting
for inspiration to come
rather than pushing the panic button
with cold feet
and cold toes
gripping the cracks in the hardwood floor
like vultures on the swooping descent.
I’ve witnessed their teeth-gnashing dive-bombs
their salivating tongues
that wag in the air like the bottom of the rope
gyrating in a cone of wind.
Speak to me you cheap Cab
you Frank Sinatra muse.
While you’re lying awake
thinking of the girl
I’m lying awake
thinking of the girl.
That’s the time you miss her most.

Grizzly Bear

a short story

by Velourdebeast

Christine and Jason went to a new friend’s costume party dressed as grizzly bears. They learned to mimic a bear’s loose, muscular, pigeon-toed gait, and they artfully constructed outfits from shaggy fake fur. The couple spent much of their free time preparing for the party by sewing their costumes and watching videos of bears on the internet together. Jason had never seen one outside of a zoo, and Christine liked to remind him of the many times she had seen bears in the wild on backpacking trips. Christine was proud to know more about bears.

Jason grew up in the suburbs near a large city, and Christine lived in a rural farming community until she moved a few miles away, to go to college. They met while studying engineering in a small town that Jason loved wholeheartedly. Christine loved it halfheartedly, and she had been the one that wanted to move. “In your own little hometown old memories drag you back into the past, and in other people’s little hometowns you always remain an outsider. The only way to escape is to move to a city,” she had told Jason. Jason resisted at first, but later worried that he would lose her if he refused to move, and so he relented.

They only knew one other person at the party, and so at first they kept to themselves, standing in the kitchen, taking whiskey shots and eating apples. Christine snorted with disgust when she spotted a package of store-bought blackberries. The berries reminded her of the effusive generosity of the land she had left behind, where love bubbled up from the ground and formed prickly vines that crested into sweet dark fruit that belonged to everyone and no one. “I’ll be fucked if I ever actually pay for blackberries,” she said loudly. Several people turned around when she said this, and they looked her up and down with puzzled expressions on their faces before going back to their conversations.

None of this bothered Christine. She was comfortable whenever she was with Jason, whom she regarded as a magnificent, brilliant, loving, and honest man. She felt that he could shelter her from doubt, leaving her free to do as she pleased.

The drunker Christine got, the more she acted out her role, making loud bear noises instead of talking to people and pretending to catch fish from the host’s tank. Jason followed suit, and together they stole food from the plates of fellow partygoers and they got down on their hands and knees, crawling in an ursine way while people pretended to be afraid. Someone knocked over a trash can by accident, and they rifled through it for a second, which made everyone laugh. They became the focal point of the party, as they were obviously the ones having the most fun.

The morning after the party they walked through San Francisco’s Mission District where they had lived for the past six months. It was still dark, and both of them were drunk. They were in their bear suits and face paint, talking about their new life and the small town they had left behind that fall.

Christine listed things she missed about living in the country. “I miss silence. I hate the way the sound of traffic just fills my brain here. I feel like someone is always rushing towards me, but even worse is the sound as the car passes and recedes in the distance; the drone of it is so lonely, it makes you feel like someone is always leaving you.”

Jason worried about Christine, who was often depressed from her job as an engineering consultant. She worked at a firm that specialized in restoring ecosystems, trying to recreate the abundance of the land around San Francisco Bay before it was pilfered and razed. The slow progress being made by her firm left her feeling frustrated and drained. When she came home she usually stared silently at the walls of their small apartment for awhile, distractedly petting their dog and the cat they rescued from a negligent neighbor. “Sometimes I just want everyone to get out of my face,” she said to Jason one day. However, Jason noticed that on her days off Christine seemed freer and more energized than ever before. Soon after they moved in, they went inside a normal looking Thai restaurant and discovered that the waitresses were all very hot looking drag queens. Christine was entranced, all smiles for days afterwards. “It’s not the drag queens, exactly,” she said to Jason. “It’s just that people do unexpected things here.”

They both paused as they walked past a bakery, and their nostrils flared as they took in the aroma of donuts, leaving them open to the booze-sweat scent of a homeless man who was nestled into a seldom-used doorway. “I wonder what we’d be able to smell right now if we were bears? We’re probably missing out on so much! I read somewhere that Grizzlies can see as well or better than we do, and they have a much better sense of hearing and, of course, smell.” Christine seemed exasperated as she spoke, frustrated by the limitations of their species.

Soon they were crawling along Mission on their hands and knees, trying to capture that particular swagger that big bears have; that elegant, corpulent rolling of muscular limbs and rounded haunches. “I’m a mama bear trying to fatten up for the winter,” Christine said, and pretended to teeter on her hind legs and look into a trash can. A man walked around the corner texting and saw her in the shadow.

“Holy Fuck!” he said, and when she stood up and into the light he flushed with embarrassment. “Jesus, I really thought you were a fucking bear.”

City people, they both thought.

The man left and suddenly they really felt like bears, and they got down on their hands and knees again, laughing and growling. They turned off Mission and headed down an alley. Jason started to rock a big trashcan, imitating what he had seen so many bears do in shaky home videos. He fumbled drunkenly, and the can toppled over. They heard a person yelling and they stayed in character, running away on all fours. “I hope we hear something about grizzlies in San Fran on the news tomorrow,” Jason whispered when they stopped, hiding in a doorway and watching the yelling man look around.

When they were about seven blocks away, they got back on their hands and knees, and Christine knocked over another can. No one come out yelling this time, but some raccoons started moving in on the spilled garbage, tipping and waddling on their black leathery paws. A cat crept closer, and then a coon snarled and chased it away. Both of them were essentially well-behaved people, but the loud toppling of the cans and the wave of funk and chaos spilling over the concrete was thrilling to them as bears.

Suddenly, the raccoons vanished, hissing. “Huh,” Christine thought as they turned and walked away. They went a couple steps forward when Jason looked back, hearing the trash rustle and expecting to see the raccoons again. Instead, they saw a large dark shape moving within the shadows pushing around an ice cream box. It stopped and raised its snout, stepping towards Jason and Christine, its enormous head hanging low from a large blonde hump at its shoulders.

“Jason, it’s a grizzly bear.” said Christine, fear and exultation cascading over her body.

The bear’s eyes gleamed, and its brown fur blew in the cold wind like the short grasses of the tundra. It was big, and it reminded Christine of pictures of bears she had seen in late summer, after they had deposited a solid layer of body fat during several months of hyperphagia.

They watched, transfixed, as the bear rifled through the pile. It dug around for a little while, and then it sniffed the air and wandered over to a chain link gate that enclosed the back entrance of a Mexican restaurant. It stood up on its hind legs and put its front paws on the fence, bouncing its weight against the metal, flexing its long muscular arms and jiggling the fat on its belly. The gate held, and the bear gave up and walked off in the direction it came, sashaying slowly away from Christine and Jason.

They picked up their pace to get closer to the bear, and at about thirty feet away it spun around to face them. It popped its jaws and charged. The turned and ran but it gained on them easily, its long limbs raining down on the pavement and its mouth open as though it were about to envelop them in a wide tunnel of teeth.

When it was about ten feet away the bear stopped, lowered its head, and swept its gaze over the narrow alley. It sniffed the air and placed its big feet carefully on the pavement like a cat avoiding broken glass, walking toward them at an angle. The bear’s dark eyes moved anxiously, and Jason and Christine backed away slowly. They felt bad for trying to get too close, ashamed that their presence made the bear uncomfortable. “We were asking for it, I guess,” Christine said as the bear turned again and walked slowly away, glancing back every few steps.

The bear continued down the dark, straight alley until they could no longer make out the texture of its fur. Christine wondered what the fur felt like. Despite being afraid of the bear Christine longed to touch it. She felt her heart sicken a little as it left them.

Jason saw the sadness in her face as she watched it disappear. He ran over to the gate the bear had struggled with and lifted the pad lock that was holding it shut. “Can I borrow a few of your bobby pins?” he asked Christine, and she rifled hurriedly through her hair and handed him some pins. He picked the lock easily, and Christine gazed at him admiringly, realizing that after three years there was still a lot about him that she didn’t know. She wondered if she should ask him how he learned to pick a lock, but thought better of it, knowing that he didn’t like to talk about himself or his past.

Jason pulled a couple of clean bags full of expired ground beef out of the dumpster and ripped them open, spilling the meat over the pavement. They watched the bear sniff the air and return quickly to them and the spilled meat. Jason backed away, and the bear glanced at him out out of the corners of its eyes, as though trying to look as if it was ignoring him. When it was done with the meat the bear climbed into the dumpster, shoveling some trash onto its belly and taking a long time to lick some packages clean.

“We should head for that other burrito place a block down,” Christine said when the bear climbed out. All three of them crossed the street. A few cars passed them and stared but didn’t seem to notice the bear. But once it was across the street the bear turned down an alley past the apartment building, no longer trailing behind them. “It must be full,” Christine concluded.

“It ate so goddamn much!” Jason said, shaking his head.

Christine and Jason started to follow but the bear turned and snorted, and they worried it might charge them again. They backed away, and watched it disappear as the sun began to turn the sky a vibrant oceanic blue, their excited pulses ringing like bells through their bodies. “I can’t believe it!” Christine whispered reverently. “I thought the last grizzly bear to live in California was shot in 1922! And then to find one right in the middle of the city – goddamn, it’s so wonderful that it makes me want to set fire to the Palace of Fine Arts and SF MOMA.”

They crawled into bed, intertwining their arms and legs, their dog and cat curled up behind their backs. Christine touched Jason’s eyebrows and jaw, and then she cupped his biceps in her hands and ran her fingernails lightly down his arms. She kissed his chest. “You’re beautiful,” she said to him, and he said it back to her. When they made love that night Christine felt like she was leading him through a dark, humid forest full of wild creatures.

The next night Christine convinced Jason to try to get the bear back. They downed some whiskey and went out at midnight, roaming around and opening up dumpsters and knocking over trash cans, smiling like maniacs, grabbing each other’s hands and kissing fervently. The bear returned, its eyes twinkling like lakes reflecting a starry sky, it’s massive shoulders heaving upwards like ocean swells. This time they had hidden some scraps of meat inside the entrance to the apartment, and the bear followed the meat trail through the doorway and into the hallway, moving hesitantly into the enclosed space. They set a plate with a hamburger patty on it in the entrance to their apartment, and they turned on a little fan to blow the scent of the meat down the hall. The bear walked carefully up the slick linoleum stairs as it followed the trail of meat.

They had hidden scraps of meat around the apartment, and the bear rummaged around shelves and cupboards for awhile, knocking over books and dishes and lamps while they watched, fascinated and ecstatic. Jason edged over to their front door, slowly closing it, afraid that the bear would leave after it was done eating. In between bites of cooked egg, the bear looked Jason in the eyes, watching him start to close the door. It stopped eating and flattened its ears, barking and moaning. It came toward him, its head lowered. “Open the door!” Christine whispered nervously, intuiting that they should not make the bear would feel caged. The move felt disrespectful to her somehow, and she was disappointed in Jason for thinking that he could corral the bear in the apartment.

Jason swung the door back open, and as the bear trotted out its huge body made the stairs creak. They stood at the top of the stairwell and watched the bear disappear into the night, and Christine relaxed once more into a state of deep wonder. She reached over and held Jason’s hand.

He squeezed her hand a little, then let go. He turned to look at their apartment: the broken glass, the meaty pile of bear shit still steaming on top of a throw rug. “God, why there? It could have crapped on the linoleum, for fuck’s sake,” he said. Jason caught sight of himself in the mirror. His face looked tired, and he realized that he was going to have to go to work in a few hours with a hangover. And they’d have to clean the apartment that night, or at the very least they needed to get rid of the shit and the glass. Jason worried about what it would be like to go to work the next morning, how he would have to hide the events of the weekend from his new friends there, because they would doubtless think him insane. If any of his coworkers came across a bear in San Francisco they would have reported it to Fish and Game instead of luring it home.

Christine, however, was overjoyed. “I can’t believe we got it to come in here! Wow, real bear poop! I bet there aren’t many people in The City who can say a grizzly bear shit on their floor.” she knelt down and sniffed it, crinkling up her face in disgust, pretending to throw up.

Jason mumbled, “How many people want to say that about themselves?” and glowered at her.

They went to work bleary eyed the next morning. Christine was distracted and accomplished very little at work. She had trouble even caring about her job. That night they were both exhausted. Jason was irritable, and Christine was in a kind of dreamy daze, as if she had just had a great time on acid.

They were quiet as they made dinner. While they were eating Christine said, “It seemed like the bear preferred the raw hamburger. Maybe we should just stick with that. I think if we hid smaller pieces around the house we could get it to stay longer, and once it gets used to being in here, maybe it will want to stay and, you know, set up a territory.” Christine imagined that they would win it over as though it were a stray cat, that somehow there would be room for it in their lives.

“Yeah, maybe.” Jason kept his eyes lowered as he said it. He watched his plate as he wrapped some spaghetti around his fork and twirled it for awhile, the ends of some noodles flapping around in a circle like the tail of a dog chasing itself. He wondered why she had to fall in love with a bear, and the frustration in his mind gathered momentum. Why was she so intent on nurturing a giant, destructive thing? She seemed so uninterested in having a baby, and she talked about having babies as though it were a burden, as though it would take away her freedom. But what exactly did she want to do with all this freedom? Was it really freedom to step further and further away from reality?

That night Christine went out by herself in her costume, and a few hours later she was back, watching the bear paw through their kitchen and living room while Jason tried to sleep in the bedroom. He tossed and turned, worried and frustrated, until the bear left and she crawled into bed naked, facing him. He touched her face, he ran his fingers through her hair, and he slid his hand over her shoulder, down her arm, her hip, her thigh. She rolled over onto her back and he put his head on her chest and held her hand to his throat. He fit his lean body as close as he could to hers and then was finally able to sleep. Christine lay awake, thinking about how much she loved him and wondering why he loved her.

Jason convinced Christine to wait until the weekend to try to find the bear again. They canceled plans with friends for that Friday and, instead, spent the night luring the bear into the apartment. This time the bear stayed. After gorging itself and breaking more kitchen stuff it curled up in their bedroom to sleep. They worried that the bear would attack but they also enjoyed the feeling of being enveloped by the bear’s presence. They both felt warm and excited, and they made love, focusing easily on the beauty and strength of each other’s bodies.

They awoke the next morning to bright sun coming through their bedroom window. To their surprise, the bear was still there, sleeping on the rug with its head resting on a pile of dirty clothes and shoes. They watched it for awhile from bed, while Christine read aloud interesting passages from a stack of books about bears. She set down a book on bear behavior and stared contemplatively at the bear for awhile.

“It’s so warm and cuddly looking, but I don’t think bears really like each other’s company.” Christine asked. “Except for the mothers and the cubs. But I don’t think adult bears let each other get too close. From what I understand, at best they merely tolerate each other, like near rivers with lots of fish where they all gather to eat.” They thought about the bear’s animal warmth and luxuriant fur, how its life to them was also unimaginably lonely. “From what I read, individual bears have a certain radius of tolerable distance, and if you enter this personal sphere you can expect to get attacked,” Christine remarked.

Jason got up and made breakfast, trying his best to stay as far away from the bear as possible. It growled at them, and they gave it their breakfast. When it was done eating the bear tromped down the stairs and disappeared into an alley. It came back later that day and took a nap in the living room.

Christine spent all night observing the bear: watching it scratch itself and arise huffily to reposition itself for another long nap, drawing it, and whispering about it to Jason. “I wonder if its male or female? I wonder if we’re feeding it the right food – I think it needs more berries and root vegetables and fiber. I read that bears can have territories between 50 to 300 square miles, so this one probably possesses all of San Francisco. Where could it have come from?” She was quiet for a moment, and then said weakly, “Do you think we should call a biologist or a game warden?”

Jason said he did think they should contact someone. He thought that the city was an unhealthy place for the bear. “What if it eats something it’s not supposed to, or gets hit by a car?” he asked.

Christine agreed that the bear should have a safe habitat, away from the dangers of humanity. She remembered videos she’d seen of people interacting with bears, most of which were taken by drunken assholes acting macho, or soft-hearted tourists treating bears like oversized squirrels and feeding them crappy starchy food like donuts and white bread. They all displayed a remarkable lack of respect, and she suddenly felt ashamed and wondered if what she was doing was any different. She remembered the sadness she felt when her mom had told her that her touch hurts the leaves of plants (she used to like to stroke them as a kid) and later on when she was scuba diving and learned that corals will die from the poisonous oils of human touch. She thought about the longing she had to touch her pet rabbit’s smooth, fine hair. She hated how he froze when she pet him, tense with displeasure and fear.

Christine agreed to make the call, but never did. Each time he asked her about it, she made up some excuse about how she was too busy. Finally she admitted she wanted the bear to stay, frowning at Jason as though he was giving her a parking ticket. She wanted to protect the miraculousness of the bear’s appearance in the city, as though removing the bear would deplete the city’s soul.

The next day they left the apartment door open, so the bear could come and go as it pleased. Christine stood watch while Jason bought groceries. He found himself spending longer than usual in the store, not wanting to go back to their apartment with its smashed shelves, weird smell, and departure from reality.

Over the next few weeks, Christine started calling in sick to work. This made her feel guilty, but the bear dominated her mind, making it defiant, reckless, and disorganized to the point where she was unable to get much done at the office. Each morning she struggled with herself, often putting on her work clothes and then finding it impossible to leave the bear. She’d promise herself that she’d go to work the next day and make up for the time she took off, only to make the same decision again.

Instead of working Christine hid food around the apartment and spent long hours near the bear, trying to get it accustomed to her presence as she watched and celebrated it through drawings, poems, and quiet songs. She always gave the bear as much space as possible, usually maintaining a distance of at least ten feet. She was afraid of the bear, and the awe and fear she felt for it made her heart push a little harder, it made her feel more awake.

She was lonely in their apartment when Jason was gone, so she dressed up at night in her bear costume and wandered around the city’s alleys with the bear. Despite its incredible strength it appeared awkward, like a gruff infant. Christine adored the way the bear moved, its front legs swinging with a loose, masculine swagger and its hips rolling like those of a belly dancer.

Christine noticed Jason losing interest in the bear, and it frustrated her, making her doubt him for the first time. It was difficult for her to understand that one could ignore something so wild, powerful, and mysterious. She was disappointed that he didn’t want to watch it and study it as she did, amazed that he didn’t long to know what the bear’s inner life was like. She realized that he showed the same lack of interest in her thoughts and feelings, and that he was disinclined to share these things with her.

Jason started going out for beers in the evenings with his friends from work, and often on weekends some of Jason’s closest office friends would invite him over for potlucks. His coworkers often met up with their partners, and Jason begged Christine to go out with him. She did once, and was incredibly bored. She got completely wasted and puked in the toilet of a brewery. “I’d rather be back with the bear,” she told Jason. “They all just say the same thing, over and over and over again….”

Later that week Jason got a flat tire on his bike while heading to the bar to meet his office friends. One of the senior electrical engineers offered to drive him home in his SUV. When they reached the outside of Jason’s apartment he asked Jason if he could use his bathroom. Jason wanted to say “yes, of course” but then he realized that would mean the man would meet Christine, who was undoubtedly dressed in her costume, sprawled out on the floor facing the bear, drawing pictures of it or writing poems to it. He knew the man would be shocked at their squalid, broken apartment. Jason was proud that most people perceived him as a practical, hardworking, professional man, and their home, he realized, was now an affront to that pride.

“Oh, our plumbing is broken right now,” Jason lied. He hated lying in general, and he hated this particular lie, which he thought made it sound like he was incapable of making repairs, or that he lived in a slum. As long as the bear lived in their apartment, Jason thought with dismay, he could never invite his friends over, and he could never be part of the potluck hosting rotation.

One night Christine joined Jason in bed still wearing her bear costume. Jason rolled away from her, disgusted and horny, wishing she was dressed as a human again. She snuggled up to him in the middle of the night, and she woke up to him pushing her away. He gave her a look of frustration and impatience that she had never seen from him before that night, and the look scared her. That morning they fought for the first time, and when they yelled at each other the bear left.

Christine sobbed for hours that morning, after Jason left for work. Without the bear her mind felt vague and lifeless. Around noon she went guiltily to her job feeling weak and defeated, and she worked dispassionately. She was unable to eat all day.

That night Jason proposed that they move out of the city, back to the redwoods and the blackberries and the space they had known before. He talked about buying land near their old home, and he said he wanted to have kids with her. “And we could have goats and chickens and bees and vegetables,” he said. “I miss that life and I know you miss it too. We could live in the country, and there would be bears of course, but they would be outside, where they are happiest.”

But Christine pleaded with him. “No, let’s just stay here for a couple years. I can be whoever I want to be here. Please, please don’t ask me to leave yet!” They cried together on the bed for awhile until Jason left for the couch, where Christine could hear him tossing and turning. The next morning Jason started packing up his stuff. He left the house in the afternoon, planning to stay with some friends while he found a new job and a place outside of the city.

Christine watched him get into his car and drive away, her eyes raw and red, her nerves jangling and a deep sorrow filling her stomach like polar seawater. She worried about the coming months and years, about how she could possibly keep her heart open without his love. She wondered if the bear would come back that night if Jason was gone. She wondered if she should be afraid of it, now that she was alone.

She wandered around her neighborhood, her body feeling unsubstantial. Over the past few days springtime flowers, peonies and daffodils, had started to bloom. She leaned over fences to pull flowers from their stems, and soon she had gathered a big bouquet. A few people glared at her from their windows as she stole from them, but it didn’t bother her. She filled her hands with flowers.

When she went back into the apartment the bear was lying in the living room. It opened its eyes when she came in but didn’t move. She sat down and watched it, and then began arranging the flowers around it, demarcating the radius of distance she had respectfully and timidly maintained over the weeks the bear had lived with her.

Christine pulled the petals off of a giant peony, each one large enough to be a child’s hand, shaped as if making a cup to hold water. She set these at equal distances as she circumambulated the bear. She beheaded daffodils and put them in between the peony petals, and next to these – tight, tiny pink peppery-smelling rosebuds. She sprinkled tiny purple sage blossoms over the larger flowers, and she set the stems and leaves of the plants pointing towards the bear like arrows.

When she was done she stood up and took a step inside the circle of flowers. At first she walked toward it, but then she realized that looming above the prostrate bear would doubtless be interpreted as a threat, so she got down low on her hands and knees, almost slithering forward. The bear watched her, its ears up, but it didn’t move or make eye contact.

She doubted herself during the minutes it took her to get from seven to five feet away from the bear, wondering if what she was doing was stupid and disrespectful. However, as she grew closer her doubt was eclipsed by a reverent longing. When she was a few feet away from the bear it raised its head and looked her in the face. She knew this was an aggressive move, and that it probably meant the bear would attack her unless she retreated. She stopped and returned the gaze from its dark, watery eyes.

“Go ahead,” she said, feeling her voice resonate within her skinny chest, the words tingling like a kiss on her lips. Her eyes filled with warm tears. The bear put its head down and sighed as it relaxed its body. It’s shoulders, belly and hips stretched out across the floor like a range of rolling hills undulating across the horizon. Christine reached out and touched the bear’s chest. Her fingers worked their way down through the coarse outer guard hairs, finding the body heat trapped in the soft, dense undercoat. The feeling swept through her whole body, and she realized she was in love, that for the first time in her life she was completely at home in the world. “I will love you forever,” she said to the bear, who relaxed under her touch like a landscape caressed by the spreading rays of a rising moon.


Originally published in Beatdom #11.

Patti Smith at the Herbert Huncke Birthday Celebration, 2009

Patti Smith performs at the Herbert Huncke Birthday Celebration, January 9, 2009 at Bowery Electric. Video by Laki Vazakas.

Dick in Dixie: Hank Williams III

interview by Michael Hendrick


They say that I’m ill-mannered,

that I’m gonna self-destruct,

But if you know what I’m thinkin’

you’ll know that pop country really sucks.
Well, we’re losing all the outlaws

that had to stand their ground
and they’re being replaced by these kids
from a manufactured town
And they don’t have no idea
about sorrow and woe
‘Cause they’re all just too damn busy
kissin’ ass on Music Row.

Published by Hank Williams III, 2005,  Bruc Records.


Doing good.

Well, I mean, you know, what I am doing to my voice. No other musician out there is doing what we deliver, as far as three and a half hours a night, four different genres, so it takes a toll on the vocal chords. It’s the never ending battle, fighting for my voice, trying to keep it. That’s the hardest part…the road…but that’s just one of those things.


What are you up to currently? In September, you released four new albums on the same day…you don’t see many artists do that.


We did a West Coast run and we just did an East Coast run. In my career, I have always toured just to tour. This is the first time I am touring around the releasing of the records but…that’s just my work ethic and that’s just what we do. The two year thing is…I wanting to get to a lot of places I never got to play before. Places like Italy, Romania, Spain, Norway, Japan, Australia…            I’m wanting to start from scratch and get over there while I can. The last twenty years I’ve really just kept it in the United States and Canada. I’ve been to Japan and Europe just a couple of times but I’ve mostly kept it in the United States.


One thing you notice about a Hank3 show is how devoted the fans are; there is a lot of loyalty show to the artist.


I do talk to a lot of people from China on Facebook…all that shameless self-promotion on MySpace and Facebook…that’s a lot of the groundwork on my end, trying to put the word out over there in a different way. I’ve gotten a lot of work off of it. I meet a lot of creative people, artists giving me stuff or making trades…a lot of guitar techs…you meet a lot of people that if someone else was running it [his Facebook page], you would not have all those great opportunities of getting to connect with folks. You just wouldn’t have the opportunities to connect to all those people who are reaching out to you if you had somebody else scanning all your stuff. So, I’ve always been into trying to be as much ‘hands on’ as possible.


It seems to be working. We have been following you since around 2000, and it seems like more people know your name now than ever.


You got to keep in mind that I have toured this road for twenty years so I would hope that it is getting a little more common out there for at least some people to know who I am. I am sure outlaw country has helped out a good little bit on that since they support me and I would just say  all the roadwork, the word of mouth, shaking all those hands, has helped a lot in getting me out there a bit. It has changed a little but there are still a few that don’t have any idea but that’s part of the beauty of it.

Also, I always strive to be grassroots-oriented. I mean that’s the main thing…not to get too big. If I had a number one song tomorrow, I would only be playing a small bar for two days in a row and stuff like that. That’s just a little bit of my mentality on that stuff…


On the subject of country outlaws, Johnny Cash gave you some help on how to write songs?


It was his advice to me…I’m not being selfish to my fans, but…the best song is, like, always just write a song for yourself. You don’t need to be writing a song for no company or sitting down on music row with an office. That’s not real. That’s not heartfelt. That’s fake and I have always lived by that. I do try to write songs and identify with my fans and make them feel connected on songs like “Six Pack of Beer” and “Drinkin’ Ain’t Hard To Do”…with the bad economy and stuff like that.

All in all, I have never tried to make a ‘number one song’ on the radio. I just put out what I do. If you get it, you get it; and if you don’t, you don’t. You definitely see that in my shows. If I wanted to be a rock star, I could just do the country stuff and walk off the stage and have a room full of people…all the girls and sex, drugs, and rock and roll would be available to me…but what do I do? I go the extra mile and I run everybody out the door and I play until the select few are left there standing with us. That has always been my approach, for now, while I got the energy to do that and take it to the next level.

If Lemmy [of Motorhead and Hawkwind] is still kicking ass at his age, the way I look at the future is – as long as I can deliver a good show then I will keep doing what I do but if I’m not able to deliver a good show like I want to, I might have to slow down and not tour as much. All in all, I’ll be touring until I’m fifty. I know that…full throttle until I am fifty. That’s the goal. It’s hard to say, I just don’t know how life is going to treat me…or health…or all that stuff and you just never can tell.

Billy Gibbons [of ZZ Top] is doing great. Hank Junior’s still out there to do his thing…Lemmy, Slayer…there are a lot of older guys who are still able to bring it to the table but I want to go out with my head up. I have seen some of my heroes, like Johnny Paycheck, on that stage barely being able to breathe with oxygen tanks hooked up to him. I have seen Waylon [Jennings] when he was shaking so bad that he couldn’t even hold a guitar pick. Me and David Allan Coe are standing over on the side of the stage. David is basically in tears because it is so hard to see him in that condition. That’s when I told myself, I want to have my head held high if I ever retire. Who knows what will happen?

A lot of it might go back to…I’m not the greatest businessman and who knows how my health will be or…I don’t see any of that Hank Williams money and none of this Hank Williams estate so, heck, I might have to tour just to have an oxygen mask…who knows, but it will be interesting to see what the future might hold for me besides music.


For all the talk of poor health, the interviewer witnessed Hank plough through a four-hour set and have time to meet fans. It is unique for anybody to put out such a show of sustained energy, both vocally and instrumentally. When the interviewer clapped Hank on the shoulder in departing, it was hard not to notice how muscular and hard Hank’s arm is.

The conversation turned to his songwriting process:


Alright, it is always a little different. First of all, writing is hard for me because of my learning disabilities, my ADHD, my dyslexia…writing has always been a challenge. Even reading has been hard for me. Sometimes I do write on the road, very rarely, but I will try to sit down with a pen and write some lyrics every now and then. Usually the pen gets in the way!

When I’m writing a country song, I usually hit ‘record’ and sing off the top of my head on what I feel and then I go back with a pen and try to make it a little more of a story or make a little more sense out of it. That’s always how I’ve just kind of done it. On some songs like “Crazed Country Rebel,” which was written on the road with Superjoint Ritual, I had a lot of downtime and I was just able to sit there and write the whole song out, then go back and put music to it later. Ninety percent of the time, it’s me singing with my acoustic guitar and kind of channeling or singing off the top of my head. I’m just singing what I feel and it just depends…because of my rhythm…I’ll either do something slow or I’ll do something fast or I’ll do something a little strange. That’s how it happens.

The rock and roll writing process is always the guitarist first, then I do the drums, then the vocals are last – because to me, in rock, you really don’t have to tell as much of a story. In country music the lyrics are a lot more important. People identify a lot more with the roots-oriented music.

It’s always been on me because most of my band is scattered. Not all of it…I have my drummer, Sonic Williams, he lives in Nashville…but most of my guys are out of town and since I play everything and I hear the rhythms and hear what it’s supposed to be, I just do it all myself and then give it to the other guys. It’s been like that because I enjoy playing drums. I enjoy playing guitar. I enjoy recording. It’s fun for me and it’s a thrill to hear the finished product and stuff like that. I never, in the country world or the rock world, have done that well trying to write with someone else…just because I am kind of shy and intimidated. In general, I am just kind of nervous around people so I just feel more at ease when writing by myself.


You get a lot of great guests, though, like Tom Waits on “Ghost to a Ghost/Guttertown,” (one of the four released in September 2011 on Hank 3 Records).


I just sent him the songs after they were created. I sent him a few songs to see which one he felt more comfortable with, so he definitely felt more comfortable with “Fadin’ Moon” because of the pushbox accordion. On the song, “Ghost to a Ghost,” he is just singing the last line but I was just going out there a little bit. It is not a country song. It is just a different sounding song but I was just trying to…in “Ghost to a Ghost” [the LP] and “Guttertown,” there are only about five or six country songs, in my opinion. There’s a lot of new stuff that is not really country at all. I am just letting people know I‘m a diverse musician and who knows what else you might be getting in the future…a little bit of everything.


Speaking of Tom Waits, both he and Bob Dylan claim they made deals with the devil. You sing about Satan a lot…did you ever make a deal?


Well, not to my knowledge. I mean, what I always approached was, my grandfather sang about the Light so it seems natural for me to sing about the Dark. That’s my big thing. I’ve had Satanism people try to recruit me and I’ve had all kinds of different people want to recruit me to try and be on their team. I do sing about the devil and stuff like that but I’m just gonna keep doing my thing and I’d rather just be an outsider and a rebel and an independent kind of guy.

So that is really hard to say. My grandfather had the woes – the sinning and the suffering because of some of the topics he might of put out there throughout his music but I’ve definitely taken that to more of an extreme level.

I do have a lot of guilt in me. I do my best to try to even out my karma… That’s why I do my best to try to be good to anybody I meet. I’m always down to earth and nice to them and try to put out the best positive energy that I can but I also know a lot of really dark people who practice that stuff and are really heavy into it but…I just…you know, that’s what they do and to each their own. It’s not my job to judge anybody…it’s whatever anyone feels comfortable with. I do have days where it is a lot harder than other days. So, you know, if I was an atheist, it sure would make things a lot more easier. I’m not necessarily on any team but I do believe in good light and dark energy and I have seen both of them work.

It’s just like the other night, when I played in Flint, MI, and somebody just said, “Well, you finally made it to hell!” So…whatever that means…and I am feeling it in my mind and in my heart. Sometimes I have those overwhelming feelings. Sometimes it goes back to, well, if I’ve made it all the way to hell, maybe I gotta just keep on fighting to get back out of it or who knows, it’s just one of those things you don’t know but I do sing a lot about the darker topics and I have felt a lot more comfortable in that world because it’s just been a natural rebellious thing for me, being raised in the Bible Belt. My mother burned all my music. I was forced to go to church four times a week and that’s back when the Satan Seminars were really big and I’m just always torn on that topic. I just never know where I really stand. I wish I did, so I could be like, “Okay, it’s said and done and this is where I’m at…” but it’s a forever, never ending fight.


 “You find out after you die,” is what some say.


I know people who have and some say there is something and some say there is nothing…like my half-sister, Hillary, she basically got killed in a car wreck and got revived and she had a nice experience. Phil Anselmo, from Pantera, he’s been dead and he came back and he is one of those guys out there who says there’s nothing. We all don’t know until our time will come.


The ‘hellbilly’ sound…


Well, to me, I’m not tooting my own horn, but I think I am close to being the pioneer of that sound. I never heard the term until I started bringing it up. I don’t think. To me, hellbilly, back in the day, was playing rock and roll on country instruments. Back when I was doing the full-on hellbilly, roots-wise…the acoustic guitar was running through a distortion pedal, the steel guitar, the fiddle, the upright bass…that was the hillbilly sound. In my songs, I was always talking about…well, I always liked Webb Pierce and I’m working on a farm and I’m singing rock and roll in a country style and this is the hellbilly sound. For me, hellbilly was just like being the independent outlaw. If you look at some of the biker clubs, whether it the Outlaws or the Hells’ Angels, or whatever, it was my way of creating a little bit of an outsider, Reverend Horton Heat on steroids kind of sound. That’s just what it was and it goes back to doing something against the Bible Belt…trying to do something a little different.


You seem to have a love/hate relationship with the Grand Ole Opry.


I have always paid respect there. I never disrespected that stage. I never cussed on that stage. I’ve never smoked in their building or anything like that. They try to embrace certain outlaws and it is what it is. I am one of the last few outlaws doing it and, the Opry means it. If you look back in history, the Grand Ole Opry was always full of kids. It wasn’t full of old people when it was really thriving and I’m just…well, Johnny Cash was doing the same thing back in his day.


Looking back at your earlier appearance at the Opry, you almost seemed ‘clean cut’.


At first, I was doing a little bit of paying respects just to get into the game, just to get a little money to pay for all the back support I owed for my child and then I started standing on my own two feet, knowing my past and fighting for my fans, fighting to be different.

Hank Junior has done the same thing on that stage. Waylon, Johnny Cash, Johnny Paycheck, there’s been a few on there that’s done what I’ve done. It’s just that it might not have been televised.

It’s a definite fact that Hank Williams was playing rock and roll before they knew what rock and roll was.

Your example is…[sings]:

“I came in last night, about half past ten,

that baby of mine, wouldn’t let me in,

move it on over…well…

Dada da da, Dada da da,  dada da da da da da da,

We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight,

We’re gonna rock, rock, rock until broad daylight…”

It’s the same fucking thing!…Bill Haley and the Comets was not the first guy to play rock and roll. Hank Williams was – they just didn’t realize it at the time. Back then, he just wasn’t having an electric guitar in his hand. A couple times he did, but he held that acoustic guitar more and he was timeless and he was crossing over and doing everything, but all in all…that is why there is a picture of Hank Williams in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are the true people that know that he was the founder of rock before rock and roll really happened, in a low key way. If you look at the structure, Hank Williams was playing the structure of rock and roll.


Your grandfather did so much in the 29 years he was alive. You put out a lot of energy, too. Are there any nights when you think, “Oh, this is what he felt like?”


There is a lot of differences between me and him. He did so much in so little time that it is still mind-boggling when you look back at the amount of work that was captured but as life goes on…or say it feels like I might be having a heart attack on stage or feeling like it might be my last day on earth, there are certain feelings because Hank told a couple folks that he kind of knew his end was near. I feel like that sometime. I definitely hope it’s not like that but the spirit of the outlaw energy, I feel it in the rooms a good bit and me and him have a lot of similarities but then, again, there are a lot of differences there. He was always an easygoing, kind of funny guy to be around, where I, on the other hand, am really not that much fun to be around. I’m kind of a downer. It’s just hard for me to laugh. I don’t know why, it’s just always been like that. He was real deep and felt at ease in his storytelling and for me, I don’t know why, but there is just a difference. I am kind of uptight. I have this nervous energy.

Maybe once in a while when I am singing I may feel him a little bit. If I have a real nasally voice, I might feel the spirit of him. There is also definitely a lot of differences. He was a very cocky individual at times, he would fight and get drunk and he would mouth off but, in general, he was good and he knew it. He was really sharp. Me, on the other hand, I have never been like that. I might be sharp but it’s not just arrogance. I’ve been real intent on making sure that people know that the ego is not out of control. I never wanted to be like my father, as far as cussing out the audiences or telling Yankees to go fuck themselves or all that stuff.

I’ve had my country heros and my rock heros dick me off and be assholes to me and I never wanted to be that guy to my fans, or my crew.


You mention Kid Rock and call him a ‘Yank’ and say he’s ‘no son of Hank’ in “Not Everybody Likes Us.” What is up with that?


He stuck his nose in the family business. He came in and tried to tell me how to act to my father. When you are going to do that, what do you expect? I’m gonna definitely put someone like that down…and that is coming from a guy says, “Well, you know I’m the next Elvis!” That’s the first thing he ever told me when I met him. So, I’ve never been like that and a lot of my fans are proud that I am not like that. They know that I put on my pants just like anybody else, work hard for what I do…nothing was ever really handed to me. I had to fight for my way in every little thing. I could have took the easy way out but I always stuck to the hard road and people ‘get’ that.


Since this is our nature issue, let’s touch on that…


I don’t hunt that much and if I do hunt, I’m mainly taking my son out, really. If I do hunt, I go through the whole process and clean it and eat it. I am not out there just to kill. I have never really been like that. I am very into animal rights, especially the shame with all the pit bulls and all the stuff that has been happening against them, especially in the South. It’s really hard to see. If you look back, the pit bull was the “Little Rascal’s” main dog…


How about the dog from the RCA Victor signs?


Yeah, that was “Petey” and there was about four or five different ones and that was the American icon, back in the day. People have made pit bulls worse, not the breed itself. It just goes to show how the corrupt people have damaged the reputation of that breed. I have always worked with no-kill shelters and animals rights activists.

This guy was trying to get back at his girlfriend so he hooked up her horse to the back of his truck and drug it for over four miles and left it at her front door…and he got a citation?! Shit like that…I would think he should have gotten six months in jail.

Animals have been so good to me and I care a lot about them. They have helped me through my hard times. It is my way of giving back. I also do “Homes for the Troops,” for the guys over there in the war who lose their legs, their arms…I do benefit shows for them, where they have to build special houses for them with ramps and stuff like that and raise money, even though the government should be paying that for the rest of their lives.

Those are the two main things I will take time out and try to raise money for.


Aren’t you active in the campaign to get you grandfather reinstated into the Grand Ole Opry?


There is a petition out on and all people can do is sign it. I just got a call from Nashville today that they ran a big story on it in The Tennessean…so things are starting to happen with it, even if we are just talking about it, but it seems like it is getting close.

I always said that the person who put it into perspective the best is Tom Waits because he called out the big corporate people and the average folks and really got them to see where the loophole is and he’s calling them out on the loophole. The 200th Edition of Mojo Magazine, has a story that he wrote and he really did a lot of homework and got in touch with the right people to call them out and let it be known. That’s what I always tell everyone to read because it calls out the big guys, the corporate people. He [Waits] is saying, “Well, why is he listed on your website as a member but in reality, he is not a member of the Grand Ole Opry?”…and just little things like that but it is a very interesting read. Find it if you can. He edited that whole edition.


But the petition has been around for a few years. Wasn’t somebody already trying?


No, I did a lot for that guy [an unnamed individual] out of respect but then he just started drifting a different way and not getting it and I had to pull the plug and shut it all down. If you not going to work with us and you’re going to think this is about you, well, guess what? It’s not about you, this is about Hank Williams…so we shut that down.


Bob Dylan just did the album, “The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams.” You were great on the tribute album to your grandfather, “Timeless.” Why weren’t you doing a song on this project?


It doesn’t matter if it’s “Hank Junior’s Big 40th” or all that stuff – they never ask or invite me to do things like that. I don’t know what it is. All I can say is that I guess it is just those corporate people in Nashville that just don’t want much to do with someone like me.

I’m not putting Bob Dylan down, but he owns my grand-dad’s stuff but never once has he reached out or anything. I have known players who play with him and he has had plenty of opportunities to say stuff to me regarding my family history since he is so into it but he never has…There is a whole other aspect to whatever that is. I know it has to do with some lawyers and people like that.

It is what it is. An unfinished Hank Williams song, in my opinion, might be unfinished for a reason. So, who knows?


You have dubbed Nashville as “Trashville.” It seems like you fit in better with the country players from West Texas. Why there?


I basically used to hang out a lot with Wayne [The Train] Hancock. He was one of my best friends out there. He showed me a lot…and Dale Watson, too… So, I have spent a lot of time in Texas. I have never lived there and don’t think I ever will live there. I enjoy living in Tennessee and I am proud to be from Tennessee. Ray Price was good to me and I got to hang out with Ray a little bit. Ray Vincent has been good to me. Junior Brown…I have recorded him at my house before. He came in a couple months ago and we all recorded a song of his and two days later it was on the radio. I am not singing on it. I just pulled the session together and recorded it. I played drums on it; I called up Dave Roe, Johnny Cash’s old bass player and got him involved.

As Junior said, “Man, I really like the vibe of your studio and the way you did it is the way it should be done. You used one microphone to capture all the different sounds and I think that’s what Nashville has stopped a lot. He had a hell of a time and it was our first time actually being able to hang out. I gained a lot of respect from him. As far as outside of Texas, Waylon Jennings had always been good to me before he passed on. David Allan Coe is basically like my father. He is the only man out there who has ever said, “If you need advice, or anything, just call me. If you need anything, you call me.” Not many people, even in my own family have been like that. Kris Kristofferson has also been very embracive to me on my career, also, and for a little while George Jones was good. Little Jimmy Dickens was always respectful to me in all those things.

I have been so busy just having to fight for my own way that I haven’t been able to hang out with those people. I don’t ‘do lunch.’ I don’t make the rounds in Tennessee. I’m worried about getting my crew and band on the road and making it happen again. That is where a lot of my time goes.

All in all, David Allan Coe is the only man who stood with my through the years and he has become a very humble man in his older age. He has done it all – he has had the number one songs and been ripped off for every one of his hit songs, and he is the closest thing to a family member that I have, one of the living outlaw legends.

I’ll never sign another artist to my label because I would never want to do another musician wrong. It is hard enough just keeping up with what I do. I would never want to make a musician feel like he did not get the sound he deserved on a song or the press he deserved or any of that stuff. I’m not that much of a business guy.


You would make a good politician, the way you shake hands and work the crowd. Did we read a quote about you thinking of it?


I think that was a mis-quote. I don’t ever see myself in politics. Look at Ted Nugent. When he is not onstage, he is politically active and I have never been into politics, hardly ever. I take the David Lee Roth stance on it…there are some things in music that just don’t belong. We are here to make people forget about their problems, not make them feel worse. You see enough about politics on every news, radio, internet…it is shoved down your face 24/7 and I take the stance that I don’t really sing about it that much.

The only political thing I’ll say is, “Yeah, it’d be nice to see that war end.” When I see how many kids come and go and how many bodies get destroyed and how many minds are being ruined…I would say it is just about time for them to wrap it up. Or, if you look at the position that Hank Junior took not long ago, if you are a gun activist, or you care about your ammo or your shotgun, you will notice that the Rights to Bear Arms are being taken away more and more.

Kids are dying for our freedom while rights are being taken away more and more everyday over there and that is sad to see…but I stay away from politics because I don’t research it. I don’t follow it. My politics is my music. I play music. I hope my gun is my guitar and I’m out there trying to let people forget about their problems. I just have never been that involved in it, not until I have to and right now I am just touring the road and have never been that into politics.

Hank, er, Pop, made that comment (likening Obama to Hitler)…I say the only musician who should say anything about politics is Jello Biafra because when he’s not playing music, he is actively involved. He is doing the speeches. He is doing the research. He is doing all kinds of stuff to raise awareness on many different levels, whereas most punk rock bands are just saying, “Fuck the government, 1,2,3, fuck the police, blahblahbla”…and they are not really doing their homework. That is my stance on it because I don’t follow it. All I will say is that if people should vote, they should vote for the smaller people…the mayor, the governor…that is where the big change is gonna happen, in the smaller communities. Not the Big Kahuna…


The ‘occupy’ movement seems to have missed that logic.


I don’t even think that is the right one. That doesn’t seem like the right movement or the motivation. The only thing the occupy thing has really shown is how the police can get away with beating old people down. That’s about it. That’s about all that happened. They can shoot you with the rubber bullets, they can pepper-spray an 84-year-old man…do all these things…It is just not the right revolution. It just does not seem like the right one. Whenever the day comes when they try to take guns away from Americans, that will be the new Civil War and that is when the revolution will happen.

The scary thing for me is on the gun level…I hear it from the Vietnam vets. I hear it from the kids that are in the war right now and then someone like my father, so it is happening on all fronts.

He [father, Hank Junior] made massive headlines…he was saying basically that Obama was Hitler. See, that all goes back to the guns. The only reason he is saying that is that the Right to Bear Arms is being taken away… or the ban to ban a single barrel shotgun. As my father would say, one of his most prized possessions is an old single barrel shotgun that his great-grandfather used in World War I and he still has it and Obama wants to put a ban on it? As he would say, FUCK THAT!

That goes back to why the kids are fighting for freedom while the rights are being taken away more and more. Ted Nugent can go there and my dad is very dialed into that but since I live very day to day and by the skin of my teeth, in reality I’m not a very rich man so that probably has a lot to do with it. Most of these people that are really hardcore into politics, a lot of them have a good bit of money. I never have had that which is another reason why I am bliss to that world right now.

It might have been joking because Hank Junior said he was gonna run for governor and then Jello Biafra told me that, “You need to run against your father and I’ll be your political advisor and we’ll have a campaign and do that.” So I might have been joking on that. I would never see myself in that kind of a position.


Originally published in Beatdom #11.

Truth and Connection of Surface and Soul

An observer of machismo Latino and big mouth braggarts on sun bleached, rusted nail pocked whale carcasses in fetid nicotine. Alcohol and testosterone like teenage street dogs chasing a bitch in heat, who skin deep only, tits and ass covered in blonde and blue no longer captive to glass shelled existential identity. Unrestrained, with words like sex and music, and drugs and dick and cigarettes, and fuck and intimacy. Disgusted with passion and longing in pure lust of a bimbo, prejudged like niggers in dreadlocks with Ph.D.’s. Conversations turn to only two, of her and me and tattered pages of Whitman and Kerouac and naked transgressions. Momentarily touched, but yearning to fuck, not physically, but fuck intellectually like Dharma bums released from public morals and ancient mores in secret fuckeries and fakeries and dungeons of typewritten manuscripts and ecstasy. Mentally masturbating in images of her nakedness rolling in sheets of flannel and Chanel, moist and sweaty, imparting musky scents to share later in dreams of frolicking and literary cumming with Howl. In green cardboard roach shit caves of solitude and loneliness as the clanging of verbally battling gladiators rings, intrusive for a piece of sweaters and panties with cock in hand, overlooking pieces of the real prize of heat forged heart wrapped in clove hard candy and absinthe. I, punished by gods of despair, but too shackled to the capital money hungry faggot of towering plastered assholes, unaffording  time to endure splinters in fingers and feet of the great whale carcass and rusted nail pocked screaming blind canines, soulless and bullshit. On a stranded crossroad of islands and tormented crucifixions in depressed pornography and soul.  So I cannot stay.  I cannot stay.  I cannot stay. I cannot stay, I cannot stay, yet recalling fondly a moment of truth and connection of surface and soul between strangers on beat epic brain sore odysseys and concocted infidelities.

Sons of the Bay

Cobalt blue bubbles like a churning ocean with billowing smoke and scent, a fire breathing dragon feeding on the waves of coal fired inspiration, wailing horns, and jazz fueled nicotine buzzing in the October chill with black ginger tea, hot, my head abuzz with sleepy thoughts and racing heart.

Another wasted grey day of unproductive loneliness and contemplative mood. Rain drizzles as I watch young hip sons of the bay retreat into cliques of unspoken superiority in fast black export cars purchased with the pocketbooks of wealthy fathers and gentry.  Educated at the finest institutions, common sense and street wise knowledge barren in their minds of preconceived fineness and misinterpreted cool. Their pockets full of cash to blow on the best booze and smokes, unaware of the velvet smooth conscious of grey streets and backroom secret hustlers hungry for Polo attired victims like cannibalistic wolves looking for a next meal. The nuclear smell of incense mingles in the organic earthy aroma of cannabis on the third floor as 21st century Gatsbysweateredalcoholics discuss pointless religious rhetoric taught to them by liberal professors.  Tomorrow’s pharmaceutical dependent upstarts blatantly unaware of the lowly masses huddled in corners of back-road bars and jukes. Moody and arrogant assholes with their entitlement, openly defensive, and never pensive, and full of high octane testosterone propaganda, juicing to build their pretty boy biceps in tiled bathrooms with amphetamine covered countertops and high dollar skin products. Arguing their points with misplaced enthusiasm, not giving a damn to hear or listen to counterpoints from highly educated life students and professors of experience and beat struggles.  Unabashedly drone on and on of inbred locals, hillbilly Bud drinkers in camouflaged hunting jackets, bewitched by the boot wearing farmers’ daughters in tight jeans and sweat dampened t-shirts, who in turn, laugh and judge the sons of the bay and their expensive watches and chinos.  Neither perceives nor readily distinguishes the common thread of O-negative humanity coursing through this institute of civilization each day of everyday in Baltimore.

Billy Burroughs: Gentleman Farmer

The notion of Burroughs as a farmer – even an inept one – may not sit right with readers of his work, or those familiar with the history of the Beats. Yet before he was William S. Burroughs the writer, he was Billy Burroughs the farmer, and this period in his life – although largely overlooked by biographers – greatly impacted his literary output. When you look closely at his work, the short period he spent as a farmer in the late 1940s keeps cropping up, and yet it is glossed over in the biographies as though of little consequence. But Burroughs considered his time in Texas as some of the happiest days of his life, and during this period he developed the routines and heard the stories that made some of his best work. Even in his most famous work, Naked Lunch, the landscape of Texas is described with allusions to his own crossings back and forth in search of pharmaceuticals, and of course in Junky there are numerous references.

Burroughs grew up in St. Louis, and whilst he talked often of its red-light districts and skid rows, he also enjoyed the parks and the gardens, and especially going duck-shooting with his father. He enjoyed hiking and fishing, too, but he was not naturally suited to the outdoors. He was in many respects a spoiled child, disliked by other adults, and considered weak and pathetic. He was sent by his parents to the Los Alamos Ranch School in New Mexico, where the school song went, “Far away and high on the mesa’s crest/ Here’s the life all of us love the best!” and the boys learned camping, hunting, and fishing. Burroughs later claimed to have gained nothing from the experience except a hatred of horses, and especially hated that the school frowned upon reading as something “for sissies”, but it’s likely his life-long love of guns began here, and maybe even his interest in self-reliance.

At age thirteen, Burroughs read autobiography of Jack Black, You Can’t Win, and was captivated. “I was fascinated by this glimpse of an underworld of seeding rooming-houses, pool parlors, cat house and opium dens,” he said. From then on, it seems, Burroughs’ interests lay firmly within city limits, and for many years that’s where he remained.

The Beat Generation was in the early days an urban movement, set in New York City, among the neon lights and the fast paced life of the city. It played out in and around Columbia University between 1944 and 1946, with Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs at the centre, alongside a cast that included – at various times – Joan Vollmer, Edie Parker, Lucien Carr, Herbert Huncke, and Hal Chase. Burroughs delved further into the criminal underworld than his Beat friends, exploring Times Square at night and planning to rob banks, living out his Jack Black fantasies. He fancied himself as a bit of an outlaw, with the government and society as his enemies. Later, Kerouac attempted to find solace in the mountains and forests of California with Gary Snyder, and Ginsberg sought serenity in nature throughout his life, but Burroughs has always been viewed differently. Less interested in nature than the supernatural, it’s easier to picture him in some seedy drug den than in the great outdoors, and as such his best writing explores the landscape of cities rather than mountains or forests.

In April 1946, the members of the Beat Generation began to move apart. Burroughs was arrested because of a forged prescription for Dilaudid and briefly imprisoned before his father bailed him out. His case was tried in June, and the judge gave him the worst sentence he could think of for an over-privileged young first offender: “Young man, I am going to send you home to St. Louis for the summer.”

Back in St. Louis, Burroughs ran into Kells Elvins, with whom he’d written “Twilight’s Last Gleamings” years earlier. Together they dreamt up wild get-quick-rich schemes, before eventually settling on the idea of citrus and cotton farming. Elvins already owned twenty acres of citrus grove by this point, having inherited the land from his father, but he was what is known as a “gentleman farmer” – he owned the land, watched the profits, and left the work in the hands of his immigrant laborers (known commonly as “wetbacks” or “wets”). At harvest time he had around two hundred workers picking what Burroughs’ claimed was $50,000-$60,000 worth of grapefruit. Burroughs’ parents were of the opinion that life as a farmer would be altogether more wholesome than letting him run around the city, and in June 1946 gave him the money for his fifty acres down in Pharr, Texas. “Fifty of the finest acres in the valley,” he called it, referring to the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

During World War II, in an effort to keep the troops fed and clothed, the US government had pumped money into agriculture, particularly in areas like South Texas, where so called “Magic Valleys” allowed for year-round farming. The result was a boom in the industry, with men flocking to the land in order to make a quick buck. These were men like Burroughs and Elvins, who really knew little about farming, but were drawn to this macho pursuit, and the idea of sitting back on the ranch, shooting the shit as their men did the dirty work. Unfortunately for Burroughs, the war had ended before he made his move. Demand decreased and operating costs rose.

Later, in Mexico, Burroughs wrote his first novel, Junky. In it he speaks harshly of Pharr and the scams that brought “marks” like him to invest their money in what turned out to be a desert:


During the Twenties, real estate operators brought trainloads of prospects down to the valley and let them pick grapefruit right off the trees and eat it. One of these pioneer promoters is said to have constructed a large artificial lake and sold plots all around it… As soon as the last sale closed, he turned off the water and disappeared with his lake, leaving the prospects sitting there in a desert.


In 1987 he was telling a similar story in his novel, The Western Lands.

For Burroughs, this was no forced exile, and he certainly didn’t think he was the sort to be scammed. He always had a strong individualist mentality. In true Beat style, he disliked conventional society and the rules that it tried to force upon him. He wanted independence and self-sufficiency in his own private Wild West, where he could live by his own laws and not fear arrest for doing the things he loved (he returned to Pharr twice after drug busts). Rob Johnson, in his book, The Lost Years of William S. Burroughs: Beats in South Texas, suggests that Burroughs was also interested in creating his own socio-economic system that, in spite of his overtly conservative views at the time (not to mention his scorn for Ginsberg’s political leanings), appeared startling socialist.

Joan, meanwhile, was stuck in Bellevue, back in New York, having suffered a breakdown. Leaving Elvins in charge of the farm for the first, but certainly not the last, time, Burroughs enacted some brilliant timing by arriving in New York on October 31st, just before her release, and whisked her off to his new farm. En route, they later claimed, their child was conceived.

Farming, however, was not Burroughs’ forte, and for a while he convinced himself that he could become a wildcatter and drill for oil on his land (which inspired the famous “oilman” routine in Queer). But although he took it seriously and attempted to study farming as he had done with numerous other subjects during his life, nothing ever went well for him. Still, to his credit, during his short time in Pharr, it seems Burroughs remained somewhat interested in the running of operations, even if the hard work was done by his immigrant Mexican laborers.


The farmer did all the actual work. Evans (Elvins’s name in Junky) and I would drive around every few days to see how the cotton was looking… There was no point in looking at the cotton since neither of us knew the first thing about it.


From the offset, Burroughs found that his own private Wild West was not really as free from the law as he’d imagined. For a start, the border patrol was beginning to step up activities against illegal laborers, and even deported some of Burroughs’ workers. He didn’t like the government telling him what he could and couldn’t do, and was even more enraged when they tried to dictate what crops he could grow. He was convinced that the government was doing the bidding of “big holders” – industrial farmers with a thousand acres or more – who were trying to squash the little guy. Ever concerned about systems of control, Burroughs worried about being a “mark” and about being conned and manipulated by powerful forces. In Junky, he wrote:


The Big Holders are the house, and the small farmers are the players. The player goes broke if he keeps on playing, and the farmer has to pay or lose to the Government by default. The Big Holders own all the Valley banks, and when the farmer goes broke the bank takes over. Soon the Big Holders will own the Valley.


In a letter to Ginsberg, Burroughs explained this point, naming the “Benson Brothers” as the local Big Holders. “They just sit, and slowly the Valley falls into their hands,” he wrote, evidently unaware of the irony that he himself was mostly a wealthy, absentee landlord. “They are the financial beneficiaries of the U.S. wetback policy.” By this, Burroughs meant that small sharecroppers could only afford to stay in business by using immigrant labor, and that by deporting or regulating this workforce, small-time farmers would go bankrupt.

He found life in the valley somewhat depressing, and he referred to it in a letter to Kerouac as “the valley of heat and boredom”. Joan was unhappy, too. She loathed the local country club crowd and probably yearned for even more seclusion that their middle-of-nowhere property provided. (Years later, in their biographies, Barry Miles and Ted Morgan both failed to place Pharr on a map, somehow placing it in East Texas, despite acknowledging its proximity to the border.)

Burroughs empathized with the artist John Haughton Allen, who said of the area, “The best way to see the Southwest is through the bottom of a glass.” He and Elvins would drink heavily. The people who knew him during this period of his life knew him as an alcoholic, primarily. Burroughs’ friends were equally eccentric and all seemingly shared his passion for guns and drink. His stories from that period are wild, to say the least.

Most people, though, seemed to view Burroughs from a distance. They thought him odd. “Retarded” is one description that Johnson was given in an interview with some Pharr citizens. These citizens remember a Burroughs that matches well with the image of Kerouac’s Old Bull Lee – of an anti-social but occasionally enthusiastic oddball.

A major benefit of life in the Valley for Burroughs was its proximity to Mexico, where he had access to boys. None of his neighbours appeared aware of his sexuality, but he made occasional trips to Reynosa, a border town, where he was outed and became known as Willie El Puta – or Willie the Queer. Despite this indignation, he was captivated by Mexico for such freedoms that were tolerated more than in America.

One problem that Burroughs faced in Pharr was that his visions for a farm didn’t stop with citrus and cotton. Although in the beginning he was writing letters to Ginsberg that claimed he would make ten thousand dollars mailing oranges around the United States as gift baskets, what he really wanted were vast fields of opium poppies and marijuana. Unfortunately, “the Valley” wasn’t in fact a valley, and the land was as flat as could be, with everyone able to see what he was growing. So in December 1949, only six months after arriving in the Valley, and only a month after arriving with Joan, Burroughs left Elvins in charge of the farm and moved to East Texas, on Winters Bayou, between Coldspring and New Waverley, 50 miles northeast of Houston. “Man, are we ever in Hicksville,” he wrote of the property which was at least a mile from the nearest road.

Its seclusion was bliss for Burroughs, who by some accounts couldn’t even get his jeep near the cabin and had to walk quite a distance. They were surrounded by trees – mostly hardwoods – and swamps. There were a lot of snakes and scorpions but the family could bathe and fish, with huge catfish inhabiting the swamps. The landscape pleased Burroughs, and reminded him of his Missouri childhood. Even Joan was somewhat happy out in the middle of nowhere, and was glad to be away from the snooty types they knew in Pharr. Burroughs described it:


It was heavy timber. Oak and persimmon, not too much pine. The kind of country that starts in Southern Missouri and goes all the way down to east Texas. There were raccoons and foxes and squirrels and armadillos.


Here, Burroughs had ninety-nine (or ninety-seven, depending on the source) acres of land, where he did indeed have the required privacy to grow what he wished. Not much grew in that red soil, including the opium poppies, but the marijuana worked out. Burroughs lived out his new life as a gentleman farmer quite happily, with Joan and her daughter Julie, and even Herbert Huncke living with them, running errands such as Benzedrine trips to Houston. Burroughs got himself a small hound dog, and patrolled his land with it at his heel, cutting wood and shooting things. There was, in fact, so much gunfire on the property that his neighbours believed the area to be a gangster hideout.

Burroughs also spent a lot of time at the local general store, which was – and still is – owned by the Ellisor family. Andrew and Arch Ellisor would stand around telling stories, which Burroughs greatly enjoyed. A number of odd little background stories in his books came from old men in Texas, and these ones eventually became significant in the creation of The Place of Dead Roads. Of course, in this novel the character of Arch was loosely based upon Arch Ellisor.

On July 21st 1947, Joan gave birth to Burroughs’ only son, William Seward Burroughs III, who was born addicted to Benzedrine, and had a difficult life from the beginning. He was just another part of the odd and ever-intoxicated Burroughs family.

Even as a farmer, Burroughs rarely went without his trademark suit and tie. He woke late, gathered his mail and the papers, and spent his days on the porch of their weather-beaten little cabin, reading stories to his disinterested wife. Joan for the most part tended to the children and made the food, whilst also famously scraping lizards off a tree with a rake. Huncke seemed to be the only one doing much work, as in addition to fetching drugs and alcohol from nearby towns, he also took the role of groundskeeper.

They all drank heavily and seemed to be continually high. They constantly had to search further afield for drugs and alcohol as they “burned down” their local supplies and managed to drink an entire county dry. Sometimes they had to go as far as Houston to score anything at all. Although Burroughs seemed to go through similar troubles wherever he lived, these particular adventures found their way into Naked Lunch.

Burroughs seemed genuinely happy during these years. Moreover, he appeared to take farming seriously. J.G. Ballard once wrote that Burroughs was “one of the least likely people ever to worry about a carrot crop,” but his letters to Kerouac and Ginsberg were always full of excited updates over the status of his lettuces and peas. He seemed always convinced about being on the edge of great riches. These details, however, are usually followed by stories of minor disasters like the weather (the Magic Valley that he was sold appears to have been a myth; winter freezes killed a lot of his produce) and unusual market fluctuations.

Back on his Pharr farm, the work was still being carried out by “wetback” workers, who toiled in awful conditions. Ginsberg let Burroughs know that he didn’t approve of the low wages these workers earned, who he believed should be guaranteed a minimum wage, and Burroughs himself seemed distressed by the labor brokers, one of whom claimed to have shot dead two wetbacks. In letters, though, Burroughs claims to have shared some of his wealth with the workers, causing suspicion among neighboring farmers. Still, Burroughs noted that he was ethically in a more dubious position than when dealing heroin in New York:


In short, my ethical position, now that I’m a respectable farmer, is probably shakier than when I was pushing junk. Now, as then, I violate the law, but my present violations are condoned by a corrupt government.



On August 30th 1947, Ginsberg and Neal Cassady arrived in New Waverly, having hitchhiked from New York. Ginsberg was enraged by the fact that Burroughs hadn’t prepared even a bed for them to sleep in, but helped Huncke, who’d offered to take apart the furniture in his own room to build a large bed for the two visitors to share.

Despite problems between Ginsberg and Cassady, and the shock of arriving to find nothing prepared, their stay was fairly pleasant. Cassady helped Burroughs fence-in the property and they all had long talks and walked endlessly in the woods. Eventually Cassady – who was tired of Ginsberg’s physical and emotional demands – convinced Allen to leave, and stayed on to help Burroughs with the pot harvest.

Neal drove Burroughs and the marijuana back to New York, where they struggled to sell it. Unfortunately, Burroughs knew nothing of how to cure marijuana and had mixed male and female plants, resulting in low-grade ditchweed. Eventually he managed to get $100 for the entire crop, and was glad to be rid of it. A few years later, he wrote in Junky, “Pushing weed looks good on paper, like fur farming or raising frogs.”

In New York, Burroughs picked up another junk habit, and spent January 1948 in rehab at Lexington, Kentucky. In May, believing that “Farm work is the best cure [for junk sickness],” Burroughs attempted to return to Pharr and purchased forty additional acres of farmland. On the way to Pharr, however, he and Joan were arrested somewhere between Pharr and New Waverly for having sex by the side of a road. “Things very uncool in Texas,” he wrote Kerouac. Burroughs had been drunk at the time and consequently lost his license. It was decided that the family would move out of “Hicksville” and take residence in New Orleans, selling the East Texas farm and keeping the one in South Texas (which was still being run by Elvins, or rather by the men that Elvins employed).

It was in New Orleans that the family was visited by Kerouac and Cassady, and forced to play host to Helen Hinckle, in days that were retold in On the Road. Burroughs later bemoaned the description of him and his home given by Kerouac in his classic road novel. When Kerouac visited, Burroughs was “living in a little house laid out like a railroad flat and raised up on the marshy lot by concrete blocks.” He didn’t even have a front yard. What Kerouac appeared to be describing was Burroughs’ farm in Pharr, a description presumably gleaned from their letters and from Cassady, who Burroughs claimed could exaggerate worse than Kerouac.

It was in New Orleans, too, that Burroughs got back on heroin, was arrested, and decided to flee from the United States. His dabbling Texas and Louisiana had informed him that true freedom could only lie south of the border. In April 1949 he returned once again to Pharr after trouble with the law, knowing that its proximity to the border would allow him a chance to escape should he need it. It was the frontier, America’s last Wild West, and yet it was not far enough for Burroughs. This time around he felt the Valley was hotter and duller than before, claiming that it was virtually free of “life force”. He sold his land to Kells Elvins and left in October. “What a relief to be rid of the U.S. for good and all,” he wrote Kerouac from Mexico City, “and to be in this fine free country.”


Although various sources claim that Burroughs was finished with farming from the moment he realized how much of a failure his marijuana crop had been, it appears that his interest had not entirely vanished, and certainly the memories were significant moments in his development. Burroughs planned to get into ranching in Mexico, but it turned out that this country lacked such freedom and he required a Mexican business partner. Still, he wrote to Ginsberg that if he managed to buy a ranch, it would bring him “unlimited opportunities.”

It was in Mexico City that he killed his wife and became a writer, and evidently farming and Texas were still on his mind during this period. There are numerous references littered throughout his first novel, Junky, indicating that Texas was not an unimportant phase between New York and Mexico, as seems to be suggested in most books about the Beats. Interestingly, a section describing South Texas was cut out of Junky because, according to Allen Ginsberg, “agricultural society was not germane to the funky harsh non-literary subject matter,” and only restored in the 1977 edition. Maybe farming wasn’t hip enough for his readers.

Later, in Peru, during his exploration of the South American jungle, Burroughs found himself decidedly turned off when stuck in a small farming town. ”Farming towns are awful,” he wrote Ginsberg. Yet he also wrote about his colonial fantasies: “You live like a king on a ranch while you are making $.” In Ecuador he yearned to live off the land once again, his fantasies of self-sufficiency and life as a farmer apparently overwhelming the reality of his failures.


From Queer:


Lee’s plans involved a river. He lived on the river and ran things to please himself. He grew his own weed and poppies and cocaine, and he had a young native boy for an all-purpose servant.


During his life, Burroughs developed passing interests in ecology and environmentalism that probably had their seed in those farming days, as he viewed the disappearance of the Wild West and difficult of maintaining isolation. He may not have spoken as clearly in favor of the environment as the likes of Gary Snyder, but throughout his body of work he clearly states that humans have ravaged the planet, and there is a definite sense that the cities and the influence of humanity are creeping outwards and consuming all that is natural. Ghost of Chance deals quite firmly with environmentalism and ecology, showing how people spread like a virus and destroy everything that they come in contact with. In it, a pirate, Captain Mission, “threatened to demonstrate for all to see that three hundred souls can coexist in relative harmony with each of their neighbors, and with the ecosphere of flora and fauna.” A humorous essay in The Adding Machine, called “The Great Glut”, jokingly attacks “ecologists, as well as Allen Ginsberg” for caring about the environment, before suggesting that all excrement and even human corpses be utilized as fertilizer. His descriptions of the vegetables that would result from such farming techniques mirror his earlier excitement about his own crops: “potatoes as big as watermelons, carrots six feet long, artichokes the size of washtubs.”

Burroughs remembered his time in Texas right into his final years. His last journal entries mention his days there, and his last ever story was about one of his neighbours in New Waverly, Arch Ellisor, who becomes a true Wild West character and flies in the face of the law, before shedding his skin and becoming Pan, god of the wild, and of nature, and of mountains and forests. Perhaps this story shows how much Burroughs came to romanticize his life in Texas near the end of his life.


This essay originally appeared in Beatdom #11.