Archives For September 2013

Submission Call: Beatdom #14

Beatdom is once again open for submissions. Until November 1st we will be accepting the usual mix of essays, short stories, artwork, and poetry for Beatdom #14: The Movie Issue.

Naturally, there is a great scope for interpretation of the topic. You could write about the movie Jack Kerouac and Lucian Carr went to see after Carr killed David Kammerer. You could write about the process of making On the Road into a movie, or Howl or Naked Lunch for that matter. There’s also the influence of movies on the writing style of William S. Burroughs, or in the lives of other counterculture figures associated with the Beat Generation.

All poetry, stories, and art should be on-topic, too.

Here are our official guidelines.

Please send submissions to the usual address: editor {at} beatdom [dot] com.

The Kentucky Derby: Decadent and Depraved?

*This is the 2nd in a series of columns by Beatdom editor, David S. Wills, about the role of truth in the work of Hunter S. Thompson. To read the first, click here

Kentucky Derby Decadent and Depraved

With the success of Hell’s Angels, Thompson moved on to his first true work of Gonzo, ‘The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved’. Continue Reading…

A Soft Old Book with Handwritten Notes as Memento of a Life

“Be always a poet, even in prose.” Charles Baudelaire

Yesterday, I inherited a first-edition (1961) paperback Baudelaire by Pascal Pia published by Grove Press with notes written in the hand of my beloved brother-in-law who died at the age of fifty-six of dreaded Alzheimer’s disease, an excruciating four-year battle. He was born on September 5, 1957, the day On the Road was published and proclaimed by Gilbert Millstein in The New York Times as “an authentic work of art.” Continue Reading…

Carolyn Cassady, 1923 – 2013


Carolyn Cassady portrait

Today the Beat community was saddened to hear of the death of Carolyn Cassady. Carolyn is well-known to Beat fans partly as the wife of Neal Cassady, and also through the work of Jack Kerouac. She played an important role in these men’s lives, but also contributed to the world of Beat studies by writing two memories of her involvement in the movement: Heartbeat, which was made into a movie starring Sissy Spacek, and Off the Road.

In 2007, when I was founding Beatdom, I spoke with Carolyn a few times via e-mail and she was tremendously supportive of the project. She continued to help in various capacities, and later we published an interview she did with Spencer Kansa.

She lived a long life and will be greatly missed.

Hell’s Angels: The Precursor of Gonzo

*The following is the first in a series of columns by Beatdom editor, David S. Wills, concerning the mix of fact and fiction in the work of Hunter S. Thompson. 

Thompson Hell's Angels

Hunter S Thompson began writing at a young age, imitating his heroes and honing his own style. He worked as a journalist, got in trouble, travelled the world, got fired, made friends, made enemies, failed at writing novels, and then wrote Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. It began as an article written for The Nation, May 17th 1965, entitled ‘Motorcycle Gangs: Losers and Outsiders,’ and it was considered the first honest portrayal of the Hell’s Angels in any major publication.[1] The article drew praise and book offers, and Thompson was persuaded by Random House to spend the next year living with the Hell’s Angels, writing about their lives. The result was the book that made Thompson’s name. Continue Reading…

Howls of 9/11 Attacks

Howls of 9/11 attacks
Moloch skyscrapers stood looming monstrously large
Crowning the shining Battery of Manhattan
Two planes crashed south and north towers
500 mph
Screeched morning sirens through city streets
Ignited jet fuel fireball syringe
Apocalyptic overdose
Raging inferno, heat intense heat 2500 degrees Fahrenheit
Four winged horsemen
Terror, waken nightmare, hellish hallucinations
Heavy black mushroom squibs
Giant ash avalanche
Cascaded down Wall Street
Rained near Whitman’s Bridge
Wailed back to Hoboken and Weehawken
Wailed over the Hudson to New Jersey
Wailed in Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island
Jumped off screaming rooftops in bright clear sun
Anguished, hysterical
Cried seraphim and cherubim
Firefighting angels
Twin towers collapsed by suicide river
Broken bodies
Left broken hearts
Shattered dreams
Released broken spirits
Mountains of idiot destruction
Melted steel and rubble
Cemeteries covered in Dostoevsky dust
Burned alive
Crematorium smells
Workers fell, jumped, leaped
We the people wept
Bended knees in cathedrals
Twisted metal beams
Exploded yellow red glare
Planes burst in blue air, over and over and over on television screens throughout the world
And in minds
Sage poet, to whom weeping came easily, you died in time
We felt your salty tears
And lost fragile flower power

Alt Lit as the New Beat Generation

“Do you think in five years the national media will create a stupid term like blogniks to describe us?”


As a scholar of the Beat Generation, the recent public attention focused on the current phenomenon known as Alt Lit has inspired in me some observations of similarities between the two literary movements. Indeed, one could provide comparisons to other movements or “generations,” but for me the similarities between these two sets of urban hipsters, sixty years apart, seems interesting. Continue Reading…

Charles Gatewood Photos at the Robert Tat Gallery

Charles Gatewood has not only been working for some of the world’s best publications for more than five decades, but his photos have given an intimate glance into the private lives of counterculture icons like Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. (One of his photos of Burroughs practicing with his E-meter appeared on the cover of recent Beatdom Books publication, Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the ‘Weird Cult’.)

Starting this month, Gatewood’s photography is on display at the Robert Tat Gallery in San Francisco. The exhibition focuses on his earlier work, including the famous “Bob Dylan with Cigarette” photo that launched his career in 1966.

For more information, see the Robert Tat website.

Announcing The Sane Asylum


This month, we are pleased to announce the release of the sixth Beatdom Books publication: The Sane Asylum by Allison Whittenberg. It’s available on Amazon:




only indie review called it “highly recommended.”