Archives For July 2013

Summer Bop 2013

“All I can say is, if you know Jimmy Heath, you know Bop.” — Dizzy Gillespiei

Jack Kerouac, jazz enthusiast extraordinaire, was inspired by and promoted jazz in his writing. He breathed jazz in prose and poetry. Allen Ginsberg called it “spontaneous bop prosody.” Ann Charters wrote in Kerouac: A Biography he “identified more with musical geniuses like Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan and Thelonious Monk than he did with any established literary scene . . . Bop was to Kerouac a new art form that had broken through to eloquence. His own method of spontaneous composition was meant to do the same thing with words that he heard bop musicians doing with their instruments. When Miles Davis played, Kerouac heard his trumpet sounding long sentences like Marcel Proust.”
In 1952 Kerouac wrote to John Clellon Holmes that he was “blowing such mad poetry and literature that I’ll look back years later with amazement and chagrin that I can’t do it anymore.” Jack didn’t quite make it to the looking back years.
A perhaps outdated popular cultural image is that of the young, strung-out jazz musician, such as Bird, and an early final destructive ending. The other popular image is of the old, strung-out jazz musician, such as the Dexter Gordon character, in the film ‘Round Midnight—but, it ain’t necessarily so. Think of the Clark Terrys and the Dr. Billy Taylors and others who continued educating audiences and playing on stage well into old, quite old, age. Now, jazz is part of the curriculum in scores of universities and colleges.
Here in Sal Paradise’s backyard, down the street from Ginsberg’s Paterson, in “nowhere Zen New Jersey” (twenty miles west of New York City) is the outstanding five-day 2013 Summer Jazz Room Series at William Paterson University. The week showcases world-renowned musicians, with Friday’s concert starring The Heath Brothers Quintet, featuring 86-year-old tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath. Called “Little Bird” he’s shared the stage with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davies, and composed and arranged in the repertoires of Clark Terry and Dexter Gordon and many others. The quintet features 78-year-old drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath, who has played with everyone including Coltrane and Monk, trumpeter Fred Hendrix (“Blowblowblow!”ii), pianist Jeb Patton, and bassist David Wong. One of the highlights of the performance was Monk’s gorgeous “‘Round Midnight.” The almost two-hour nonstop show lead by the sprightly National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master captivated the audience. The auditorium’s first row was filled with young men, jazz students, very young—as in high school (part of the university’s summer jazz workshop)—sitting at the edges of their seats and quick to jump up for a standing ovation. What’s there to say when you hear music at this level? How does one respond? Surely the definitive experience belongs to that most exuberant young man Neal Cassady:
“Dean stood in front . . . oblivious to everything else in the world, with his head bowed, his hands socking in together, his whole body jumping on his heels and the sweat, always the sweat, pouring and splashing down his tormented collar to lie actually in a pool at his feet…”iii
The frantic, wailing, funny jazz scenes in On the Road exhibit Jack’s great colorful gift of celebrating life and his heartfelt love of “skidilibee-la-bee you, —oo, —e bop she-bom.”iv
ii Kerouac, Jack, On the Road, 1957
iii Kerouac, Jack, On the Road, 1957
iv Kerouac, Jack, “The Beginning of Bop” Escapade, 1959

Beatdom #13 On Sale

After much delay, Beatdom #13 – the DRINKING issue – is now on sale. Get it on Amazon, Kindle, or via our website.

This issue features essays about William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Charles Bukowski’s thoughts on alcohol.

Beatdom #13

Nude Supper

Nude Supper i


Desolation Angels, p.341
[Kerouac about Burroughs]
“…rejecting him completely from their interior decorated living rooms in retirement Florida because of the mad book he’s written and published in Paris (Nude Supper) –“

Heat wave
So hot
Summer in the naked city
How shall we dine?
How shall we sup?
Let’s shrimp in the raw
Peel the shells
Drop in aqua ice
Crisp baby artichokes
Snip off the points
Dip in cold sauce
And lobsters
Melt the butter
Squeeze the lemon
Take the napkins
Shuck one hundred oysters
Fresh sea brine
On the rocks
Chill the pearl of great price
Steam crabs
Crack blue backs
Don’t forget the Dubonnet
So much better than rum
In this heatii
Frosted glasses
And ice, crush the ice
The iceman comethiii
And taketh thy clothes away
Peel it
Chocolate dip the tip
and pop in freezer
Ice cold red juicy watermelon
Here’s a glacial knife
And a hammer
For the coconut
Plums, so sweet, cold, and deliciousiv
Save them for breakfast
Sit you and me
By the iceberg
Under the palm tree

i Kerouac, Jack, Desolation Angels, 1965.
ii Kerouac, Jack, and Burroughs, William S., And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, 2008.
iii O’Neill, Eugene, “The Iceman Cometh,” 1946.
iv Williams, William Carlos, “This Is Just to Say,” 1962.

RIP Chris Dickerson

During the preparation for Beatdom #12, in late 2012, I was honored to receive a submission from a man named Chris Dickerson. He contributed one of the finest essays I’d had the pleasure of reading in a long time. It was called “Down These Mean Streets,” and acted as a literary guide to Los Angeles, focused through the eyes of Raymond Chandler. Since publishing that wonderful essay, I have received numerous e-mails from delighted readers, and naturally I was eager to have Chris back for issue thirteen.

Indeed, not only did Chris submit another brilliant essay (this time focusing on Los Angeles through the eyes of another native author, Charles Bukowski) but he also contributed a piece of short fiction that took a somewhat light-hearted approach to the subject of drinking. I never noticed, but at the end of both the essay and the story, the subject dies. His essay ends at Bukowski’s grave, and the story ends with the protagonist realizing that he is in heaven, hell, or some other kind of afterlife.

A few weeks ago, my editor and a good friend of Chris’, Katharine Hollister, wrote me to pass along the sad news that Chris had suddenly taken ill, and that the outlook was not good. Although we hoped that he would recover, it seemed unlikely, and so we hoped that he would at least live long enough to see his last magnificent pieces of writing put into print.

Alas, it was not to be. Chris passed away on July 9th. He will be missed as a great man, a talented author, director, playwright, and poet. He will live on through his work, some of which can be seen on his YouTube channel. His poems are available on Amazon.

Vast Suffering Painting

First thought, best thought
First wife, best?
Lost wife of youth
Black-haired baby boy
Third wife
Care giving wife
Second wife
Blue-eyed girl
“You can’t go all over the country having babies like that,”i sayeth Gabe to Neal
(Jack, why couldn’t you be happy with ecstasy pie
pumpernickel bread and sweet butter with your morning coffeeii?)
First noble truth suffering
La vida es dolorosaiii
You will have suffering in this world
Born to die
Suffering and Strife & Reconciliation
Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev
Holy O thought
Humble poet
Charley Parker looked like Buddhaiv,
but did Buddha look like Charley Parker?
Jazz defined in four words
Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker
quoth Miles
Charlie Parker dug cowboy songs
He liked the stories
Monk didn’t like rock’n’roll
Life goes on and on
The genealogy of Jesus
Abraham … David … Solomon …
The Virgin Mary of Mexico
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Generations and generations of suffering
Produced the Christ
All these specks of paint
Create one eternal painting
Vast as universe
i Kerouac, Jack, On the Road, 1957
ii Kerouac, Jack, Desolation Angels, 1965
iii Kerouac, Jack, Tristessa, 1960
iv Kerouac, Jack, Mexico City Blues, 1959

Defender of Jack

“Tis too starved an argument for my sword”i

Politics not for me
Peacemaker methinks
But take a stand
To defend Ti Jean
Read such things
anti this anti that
True, Jack said
Ugly drunken Tokay’d words
to big bearded Patriarch of Constantinople
But Desolate Angel saith
Irwin takes no bull
from anyone
(courage boy Newark born
raised in Pater son
survived harrows of Naomi
emerged life canonized bard and saint)
When Jack acted out
Allen gave it right back
And he loved him
Until Lowell end
So if Allen loved him,
why can’t I?
“Best poet in the United States”ii quoth he
Agree me
“…stupidly underrated by almost everybody except for a few people who are aware how beautiful his composition is…”iii
He was an ist and an ite
Wouldn’t want to be one of his women
(Mr Love-em-and-Leave-em)
… or his Mémère
Different time and place
Different America
Different attitude
No excuses
It was what it was
People are what they are
Flawed fallen inebriated angels
Was he true ite?
Don’t think so, if so, why befriend Irwin?
He with great Yiddish kopfeiv
Love bro from Butler beginning
Tru said
That’s not writing, typing
The boy sure could type
But he could write
So take it back, not Tru
World would be grayer place
Without soft golden colored red yellow pink mad words of
As the man said
“Eat your eggs
Shut up”v
i Shakespeare, William Troilus and Cressida
ii Kazin, Alfred, Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interview, 3rd series, 1967 [Ginsberg]
iii Kazin, Alfred, Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interview 3rd series, 1967 [Ginsberg]
iv Morgan, Bill, and Stanford, David, Eds., Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg : The Letters
v Kerouac, Jack, Desolation Angels, 1965

Drinking from the Beat Menu

 Jack Kerouac

Gin, whiskey, beer, cognac, and wine


According to his biographer, Michael Dittman, as a young construction worker (working on the Pentagon), Jack Kerouac would bring a pint of “gin or whiskey” to work every day. His early years appear mostly dominated by beer, which he would continue to drink – often as a chaser – for the rest of his life. However, through most of Beat history – from the early “libertine circle” days in New York, through the publication of the most important Beat texts and the subsequent “beatnik” fad – Kerouac’s drink of choice was red wine, and it is this with which he is most often associated. It was, after all, wine that he drank during the famous 6 Gallery reading, while travelling America, and hiking in the wilderness. However, in the late fifties or early sixties, Kerouac switched from wine back to whiskey, according to Paul Maher Jnr, because “the excessive intake of wine had turned his tongue white.” Maher adds that Kerouac was also drinking rum at this point, but whiskey was to remain his drink of choice (and that of his mother) for the rest of his life. In Tristessa, he had said that he was drinking “Juarez Bourbon whiskey” and that he mixed it with Canadian Dry, while most biographers and friends have recounted his fondness for Johnny Walker Red. During a trip to France, Kerouac began drinking Cognac, and once told Philip Whalen that “Cognac [is] the only drink in the world, with soda and ice, that won’t actually kill you.”

Allen Ginsberg

Red wine


Not being a big drinker, Ginsberg didn’t have many preferred drinks. He mostly drank wine, which was often on offer at poetry readings and other art events.

William S. Burroughs

Tequila, vodka and coke


Due to his time in Mexico and Texas, Burroughs was known to have consumed a lot of tequila. His wife, Joan, when she was not busy drinking Benzedrine coffee, was a heavy tequila drinker in those years, too. In his later days, though, Burroughs preferred vodka. When it struck six o’clock, he would begin mixing vodka with Coke. Shortly before his death, Burroughs spoke with the Absolut Vodka company about the possibility of doing an advert featuring his artwork, called “Absolut Burroughs.”

Gregory Corso

Wine, beer, whiskey


While Corso was a wild drunk, he appears to have had no real preference for any one kind of drink. His letters are full of references to blurry nights on the town, mentioning wine, whiskey, and beer in equal measure. In her memoir, Huerfano, Roberta Price observes – as many have – that Corso was usually drunk when reading his poetry in public. She says: “he drank a lot of wine and whatever hard liquor was offered,” and usually shouted insults at the audience. Corso seems to imply, however, that in each case it was the influence of other people – and sometimes of boredom – that made him drink.



This article is from the forthcoming Beatdom#13.

Coming Soon

Beatdom #13This is the cover for Beatdom #13: the DRINKING issue. It features legendary booze-hound, Charles Bukowski, as drawn by the talented Waylon Bacon.


Beets and Beats and Bebop

beets2“I make a crazy Chinese sweet and sour sauce on the hot stove, compounded of turnip greens, sauerkraut, honey, molasses, red wine vinegar, pickled beet juice, sauce concentrate (very dark and bitter)…” Desolation Angels


Big fan of beets
Beets roasted in oven
Beet tops cooked like spinach
Both tossed with extra virgin olive oil and the sea is my brother salt
Painted a painting of beets with beet cooking liquid
And colored a pair of plain white canvas sneakers with beet juice and red marker scribbles
Wore those shoes to Woodstock midnight ramble and local cried out, “ORIGINAL!”
Big reader of Beats
Sometimes sit down and eat beets and read Beats and listen to bebop
And feel beatifically happy with great crimson red beet vitamin splash
And colorful pomegranate poetry in ruby motion
And great happy soaring tinkling jazz
(Thanks, Jackie Kulch, for photo.)