Archives For 2013

The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

Going from ridiculous to “madman” is a rise in his social position
He is laughed at, absurd, and proud
And concludes nothing in the world makes any difference
He decides to kill himself with an excellent gun
A shabbily dressed eight-year-old girl runs to him on the street in despair
Her Mummy is dying someplace nearby
He shouts and sends the trembling child away
Goes home that dismal November 3, examines his conscience and has a dream that reveals Truth
He travels through black space with the help of a being
Delights to see the sun
And goes to “an earth unstained by the Fall”
The people are happy: innocent and beautiful and love each other
They have no desires and are at peace
They commune with nature and the stars
But he exposes them to corruption: voluptuousness, jealousy, cruelty, sorrow, suffering, crime, and violence
He weeps for them and wants crucifixion and martyrdom, but wakes from the dream
And decided to preach truth and love of neighbor
And finds the little girl

The short story “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” was written by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1877.

Coming Soon…

Beatdom 14 CoverHappy holidays, folks. Here at Beatdom we’ve been desperately battling technical problems in order to bring you the latest issue of our literary journal. While we had hoped to have it on the shelves prior to Christmas, we’re working hard to make sure that it’s on sale before the end of 2013. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with our progress.


Dostoyevsky’s Heavenly Christmas Tree

For “electronic laser TV generations that don’t read Dostoyevsky” quoth Allen Ginsberg

Fyodor, Fedor, Feodor
Dostoevski, Dostoievsky, Dostoevskii, Dostoevsky, Dostoyevsky was a psychologist, pardon, novelist
His Christmas story is about a six-year-old boy, perhaps younger than six
The boy is in a great city
Alone with a sick motherangel closeup
In a cold damp cellar
He touches his mother
So cold is she
Dead cold
It’s dark in the cellar
And the boy is haunted by barking from a ferocious dog
He ventures up to the unknown street

He recalls thousands of barking howling packs of dogs in his home town
In this unknown place, stone streets are frozen with snow
Steam hangs from the mouths of horses
A policeman turns to avoid him

Another street
This one lit by lights
And a glass window with a marvelous tree
Decorated with toys and apples and many lights
Pretty children dressed in best clothes play
And on a table yellow, red, and almond cakes
A lady hands him a kopek
But it rolls away
And he cries, poor wretched little, little boy
Another glass window
With dolls dressed in green and red
So real he laughs
A big wicked boy knocks him down
So he hides behind a wood stack
He warms up
And hears his mother sing

A soft voice calls, “Come to my Christmas tree”
A bright light!
Another tree, like he’s never seen
With boys and girls flying
They kiss him
His joy-filled mother laughs

This is the Christmas tree of Christ
For children frozen
Died of bad air
Angels and crying mothers
Flying, kissing, and happy children

“The Heavenly Christmas Tree” was written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1876.

A Gentle Creature

A gentle creature
A slender young woman, fifteen years and nine months
With very large eyesRussian icon (2)
An orphan who lives with two aunts, mean
They beat and treat her as a slave, and begrudge her daily bread
She has one option: marry a (two wives in the grave) fifty-year-old shopkeeper and mother his children . . .
She tries to get a job . . . but can’t
The pawnbroker proposes
He’s the lesser evil than the fat and watchful shopkeeper
She takes a long time to consider Mephistopheles introducing himself . . .
And marries him, she pawn, he broker (who quotes Goethe)
Pawnbroker is stern . . . and silent . . . and pours cold water upon her happiness
She stamps her foot at him
Aims a gun at his temple
And falls ill in winter
He pays for a doctor and a nurse
Winter passes
One sunny day, she sings
He kisses her feet . . . and she sobs
Plans of Boulogne to bathe in the sea
She thinks and smiles
Opens a window
Clutches icon of Madonna and Babe
And jumps
Nothing was crushed
Just a small spoon of blood
He claims to be only five minutes too late
So thin in her white coffin
“People are alone in the world.”

The short story “A Gentle Creature” was written by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1876.

New ‘Festival of the Beats’ for Ipswich

A new literary, art and music festival celebrating the Beat Generation is being launched in Ipswich next month.

The month-long “Festival of the Beats” will feature a series of fringe events at various locations in the build-up to the main festival weekend – from January 31 to February 2.

Poetry, spoken word, film, live music and art exhibitions will be held at the Town Hall to pay tribute to a literary movement which took off in 1950s America.

The Beat Generation quickly became a cultural phenomenon, in large part thanks to Allen Ginsberg, who wrote the epic poem “Howl”, Jack Kerouac, author of “On The Road” and William Burroughs, who stormed to fame with the novel “Naked Lunch”.

Festival organiser Paul Fisk, a local poet and artist, said: “This is a unique opportunity for the people of Ipswich and beyond to experience a taste of one of the most influential cultural eras of the past 60 years.

“People can also witness the influence it had on a group of young Ipswich writers and poets in the late 1960s,” he said. “From their hangouts such as The Orwell book shop, the Vaults, the Gondolier club to them following in true spirit of the original beats and taking to the road and writing, some of these guys will be returning for the festival to talk about their adventures on the road and their memories of a bohemian Ipswich.”

Festival of the Beats will bring together the words, music and art of the period through second-generation beat performers such as Michael Horovitz and new contemporary performers from the area such as Joe Runnacles.Other confirmed acts include Attila the stockbroker, Luke Wright, Henry Lawrence, Silbury Hill and the Horn Factory quartet.

Councillor Bryony Rudkin, Culture portfolio-holder at Ipswich Borough Council, added: “This is a unique festival and a great achievement by Paul. It will rekindle many memories oflocal people and open a fascinating world of alternative culture to new audiences.”

Paul is also calling for volunteers and sponsors to support the event: “We would appreciate any support to make this the best festival possible. We would love the people of Ipswich to embrace the different art forms and a sense of community.”

Anthony Wooding, managing partner with Kerseys Solicitors, which is supporting the festival, said: “This is an innovative and exciting art project, which we are proud to be involved in. It has been a rewarding experience and we would encourage other businesses to take part, too.”

 For more information on the festival or getting involved, contact Paul at or 07858 738080 or visitwww.festivalofthebeats.comNew ‘Festival of the Beats’ for Ipswich

Propositioned By Ginsberg

August, 1968, Chicago. It was the Summer of long hair, and long hot nights. Small wonder America would soon be in flames, when all the South Side was sleeping on the beach by Lake Michigan. Like London in the Underground, during war. And there was war. Guerrilla fighting on the streets, from the top of city monuments. War against the war, war against the shadows on the walls after dropping acid. War against the staid, complacent, uptight. We were mobilized for action by SDS.  All the young were there, and we formed in lines in Grant Park and then as night fell, on Wabash Avenue against a line of police. The police put tape over their badge numbers; they couldn’t wait to charge; the sons of dark against the sons of light. The whole world was watching, we screamed, and they came. Vans were overturned, heads cracked in the melee. It was culture versus culture. It was Gettysburg.
I ran. I wasn’t a fighter, none of us were. We were musicians, poets, artists. My poetry was more than protest; it was my soul. I wanted it to outlive the flash of tonight and outdate the hippie kingdom. I went to the nearby Art Institute on Wednesday evenings  for signal flares, and carried the light home and poured it, privately, on a page.
There were tents in Lincoln Park, during the Convention. Organizers of the protest hosted  counter-culture events: poetry readings, guitar strumming on the grass. The night after the Charge of Wabash Avenue, I went to a reading. My poems weren’t ready to be seen, or heard. I stood in a throng of ourselves, certain of our cause, and hipness. Ignoring the buzz of chaos. A small, dark bearded man noticed me. Hey, he said. Hey, I said. He took my hand. No, man, I said. Loud. He was insulted. He was troubled, very unsure and disappeared into the mass. I went home.

Volume V: On Bravery

“It is possible that a starving African farmer has less sense of injustice than a middle-aged Western male who has never been fellated.” – Michael Foley

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White Nights

White nights
Young nights
Petersburg romantic lightsWhite Nights Macmillan
Ivanhoe and Norman knights
Rossini’s la-la lends delight
Two poor lovers . . . enter a third
Confess each other’s sorrowed souls
The loneliness of life
Illusions and dreams
Tears and despair
Grandmother pin those skirts so tight
Le notti bianche
Cinema Visconti
‘57 was the year
Marcello danced up in the air
A moment of bliss
. . . for all of this

The short story “White Nights” was written by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1848, and has been the inspiration for many films in many languages. (Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs all greatly admired and were influenced by Dostoevsky.)

The Rum Diary and the Youth of Hunter S. Thompson

One mustn’t forget, in looking at the works of Hunter S Thompson, to go back and visit his first book, which was ‘lost’ for decades until its eventual publication in 1998. This is different from Thompson’s other books in that it was a genuine attempt at a novel, with a plot and stories that didn’t necessarily happen to the author in real life, but were merely inspired by his surroundings. The book predates Gonzo and Thompson’s journalistic innovations, and comes from the period in his life when he was just another writer, trying to cut it working for a newspaper, and trying to write novels like his idols – Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Yet, even in those early days, Thompson was mapping out his future. According to David Hamilton’s memoir of his meeting with Thompson in South America, the young man was talking about journalists as participants and even actors, helping the events around them to unfold, rather than noting them as an outside.[1]

One can certainly see the early signs of what Thompson’s writing would become, though it never began to peak for another decade. As William Kennedy said,


The tools Hunter S. Thompson would use in the years ahead — bizarre wit, mockery without end, redundant excess, supreme self-confidence, the narrative of the wounded meritorious ego, and the idiopathic anger of the righteous outlaw — were all there in his precocious imagination in San Juan.[2]


Although one could claim any Thompson book to be a novel, due to the dubious claims and distorted versions of true events, The Rum Diary is almost entirely fictional. It is, however, based on the world around Thompson at a certain time. In 1960, prompted by a strange friendship with William Kennedy, and the appearance of his friend Bob Bone, he took a job at a magazine in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The magazine, however, didn’t turn out to be ‘the Sports Illustrated of the Caribbean’ that Thompson expected, and he was trapped in Puerto Rico, writing about bowling, for bowlers. He was not happy.

Thompson found himself living in a beach shack, in some strange paradise. However, the work was demeaning. Thompson’s ego at this point in his life was incredible. He wrote intolerably high-minded letters to publishers and editors, and yet was somehow employed by a low-class bowling magazine, doing nothing more than jamming bowlers’ names into print.


They were introducing bowling to Puerto Rico. I had to go out and cover bowling every night in San Juan. Bowling was going big. Bowling alleys were popping up everywhere. What could you say about bowling?…But about half my work was making sure every bowler in San Juan got his name in the magazine…ever since then I’ve hated the world of bowling.[3]


To keep himself interested, Thompson was writing mediocre travel pieces for newspapers across America, and wrote a few pieces for bigger publications. In between, he earned work as a male model.

Soon, however, Thompson persuaded his old friend Paul Semonin to come to San Juan. Semonin landed a job at the Star, and rented a better place with Thompson, outside the city. Soon Sandy Dawn Conklin, Thompson’s common-law wife, was living in the crowded beach hut. She was Semonin’s ex-girlfriend, and the couple’s nudity and outward sexuality made for an uncomfortable stay.

During this period, Thompson published another piece, this time for his hometown newspaper, which had for the duration of his stay listed him as Caribbean correspondent. The article was about Semonin, describing him as a wandering Louisville son in the Caribbean, honing his skills as a painter. However, the article was completed fabricated, in no way endorsed by the subject, and contained quotes from Semonin that had never been uttered. Semonin was enraged.

Soon after this, Semonin and Thompson were arrested after a dine-and-dash attempt, and spent part of a night in jail, before being rescued by Kennedy. It was all Thompson’s fault, and he played out the whole affair as a theatrical farce, calling the police Nazis, and again enraging his friend.

By the time that Thompson escaped Puerto Rico (through an attempt to get to Europe, but only making it as far as Barbados) he had the idea of a novel in his head. The idea resulted in The Rum Diary. This novel drew heavily from his experiences in Puerto Rico, but was not entirely autobiographical.

He wrote the novel between California and Colorado in the years following his departure from the island, but it was only following the success of his collections of letters that Thompson thought to look back at his old works, at his fiction. When he did, he found The Rum Diary as a thousand-page manuscript. He cut six hundred pages and the result was a pleasant surprise for him and for the critics, who were expecting an embarrassment.


But how much of The Rum Diary was truth, and how much fiction? Ralph Steadman, his old friend and the other half of Gonzo, said that, ‘It was him again, doing an assignment in Puerto Rico, doing small-time journalism.’[4] Indeed, it’s easy to see that the surroundings in the book match other accounts, and the character of Paul Kemp doesn’t differ too greatly from that of Hunter S Thompson, but this was a time when Thompson was a young writers with his sights set firmly on writing novels, and his life acted as inspiration. Perhaps The Rum Diary is a novel like On the Road was a novel, just a cover for a twisted reality. Or perhaps it was indeed a novel in the tradition sense, and Thompson’s imagination had been set into action by his experiences as a struggling journalist.

The novel starts with a description of the setting and background, and quickly moves into what is effectively the story of Paul Kemp’s departure from New York. This doesn’t exactly fit with the story of Thompson’s departure, but it’s possible to see Thompson in the protagonist as he speaks in quick, sharp bursts of angry speech. “You rotten old bastard,” tells an old man after the guy almost sits on Kemp’s typewriter. One hardly needs to stretch one’s imagination to see any incarnation of Thompson in this situation, responding in that manner.

When Kemp arrives in San Juan, to write for the San Juan Daily News, we are presented with a deviation from the truth, in that Thompson clearly arrived for a job at El Sportivo. But this is what The Rum Diary is. It is a novel heavily influenced by Thompson’s time in San Juan, but not specifically about it. It is a re-imagining of the period.

Soon Kemp is talking with Bob Sala, the staff photographer, who asks the newcomer why he came. ‘A man could do worse than the Caribbean,’ Kemp explains. Sala disagrees, and soon the novel departs from the brief glimpse at paradise, and enters the murky world of professional journalism. Kemp realises he has walked in on a bunch of drunks, with the good writers and good people dropping like flies.

From there on the novel details the racial tensions that Thompson experiences, and the run-ins with the law. Sex is thrown into the deal, whereas it seems to be missing from so many of Thompson’s books. This was clearly inspired by Thompson’s relationship with Conklin during her time inSan Juan.

[1] Hamilton, D., ‘In an Innertube, On the Amazon’ Michigan Quarterly Review 29 (1990) p. 382

[2] Backcover blurb of The Rum Diary

[3] Thompson, Gonzo Papers, Vol. 3: Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream (Simon & Schuster: 1990) p. 65

[4] McKeen, Outlaw Journalist p. 340

Visions of Winter… Russia… Cody

Hot chocolate . . . delicious
Blustery deep freeze winds
Cut through cruel canyons of Manhattan
Past Dostoevsky Christmas angels
Huddled in icy doorway
Snowfall and heavenly whirls and waltzes
And bare souls and mystic mad Rasputin
Listening to Tchaikovsky in snowy swirls
O, Robert, where art thou Frost?
Are we in St. Petersburg, Russia?
The littlest Romanov
Tender Alexei lambevich
And four sister lilies pure as pearls
Hothouse saints with flowers and ribboned hair
Donned jewel encrusted bodices
Shots rang out
Bullets bounced
Murder most foul
Bayonets and pistols
Shrouds of bed sheets
Ghastly secret Siberian grave
Black and filthy July deed
Will take all the mountains of Ural snow
To cover royal blood
O, Holy Martyrs
Holy Mother of all the Russias
Great Orthodoxy! Passion bearers! Peter and Paul!
Who could write this Macbethian tragedy?
And the intense frozen sun continues to shine
On winter blue coats
And cherries in the snow
O, Cody, brother of my youth
Found cold and by the tracks

Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Cody. (New York: Penguin Books, 1993).