Archives For July 2014

Setting Kerouac to Music: An Interview with Kubilay Uner

This article originally appeared in Beatdom #14 – the MOVIE issue.

 

Kubilay Uner is the composer for the 2013 movie, Big Sur, based on the Jack Kerouac novel of the same name. He has worked with Michael and Mark Polish – the brothers behind the movie – on various projects, as well as performing live scores in concert halls. I spoke to him about setting Kerouac to music for the big screen. Continue Reading…

Beatdom #15 Now on Kindle

Last Monday we released Beatdom #15 – the WAR issue – and this week we’re releasing the Kindle version! Enjoy:

 

Fracas is a Bar

Fracas is a bar
I live not far
Oh, the place is full of history
Involving many a cop and car
A big melee comes to memory
About the night
Of the smashing fist fight
In the parking lot
And not a little but a lot
From near and yon two hundred folks
Online zine screamed and spoke
The place shut down
With nary a frown
But soon reopened
Sharply spoken
About hush-hush dollars
And boy, folks hollered
Things calmed down
In the town
But now new plans sprouted and touted
About kicking things up
While I in my cups
On sleepless nights
Rudely waken
To shaking rafters
On tired morning afters
Weakened and ashen
Flying open the shutters
Bad words in my mutters
Till one summer eve neon light bulb appears
If you can’t BEAT’em, join ‘em, my sodden young dears
Be there on ladies night or open mic
Sign the petition to reeve up the bikes
Next year when lease is expired and died
To quieter shores will I swim on the tide
Safe behind rich landscaped lawns
Leave downtown and its cool little town thorns
To hell raisin’ Hanks and wild young pranks
Call on Bruce, baby, for two river rent
Maybe, baby, mine is all spent

From Albion to Shangri-La

From Albion to Shangri-La consists of collected excerpts from Peter Doherty’s journals, circa 2008 to 2013, with an added selection from his tour diaries, all rounded off with a previously unpublished interview with editor, Nina Antonia – the rock journalist’s rock journalist, no stranger to the darker excesses of some of rock’s more elegantly wasted sons – whose sharp eye and clear ear have been called upon to assist in this literary distillation, as explained in her Introduction. Continue Reading…

“To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing” i

The title of the William Butler Yeats poem “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing” makes me cringe. Is it kind to encourage a friend whose talent may be nonexistent, or is it kinder to speak plainly, in other words, tell the truth? Friend, it’s my unfortunate obligation to say you have no talent in this area and must give this up, the sooner the better, because you‘re wasting everyone’s time and making yourself crazy and are playing the fool on the world’s stage.
Then, there is the other friend who may be the most talented man at the open mic, and this poor soul just can’t catch a break. He’s got looks, lyrics, musicality, but he’s a shy boy and doesn’t know how to promote himself. He spends years writing elegant, intelligent songs that go way over everyone’s head, but those few who hear these songs recognize his heartbreaking talent, unknown, as Yeats writes, that comes “to nothing.” Shy boy knows the world’s great poets. He actually reads Wallace Stevens and can recite Yeats and deeply loves Robert Frost and all those dusty, bearded New Englanders. He stays home year after year in the quiet of his lonely room and writes notebooks worth of lyrics and records songs on a little recording device and spends long evenings with his acoustic guitar in hand. I say perhaps Yeats is being a bit harsh? Maybe shy boy encourages others, maybe just one or two others, and from those two, perhaps good will come from what seems barren. And, hope upon hope, maybe someday shy boy will crack the glass ceiling and rise in “Triumph.”

Perhaps I’m more optimistic than Yeats. Yes, the writer, the musician, the artist, the creator, desires recognition, desires to leave something of herself behind, as a memento of a life lived. “Now all the truth is out,” whose truth, Yeats, the world’s truth, the money men’s truth, the truth and inner depths of the artist? “Be secret and take defeat,” go in the corner and quietly lick those wounds; take it like an adult. “How can you compete,” yes, you unknown writer, how can you compete with, say, a television personality who writes one book after another and then gets to promote it every night on HIS television program, quite brazenly and without any shame at all? Or that rock star sitting in the corner at the party listening to his own records, how can you compete? Yes, “turn away,” turn away from the things of this passing world, and let the creation of your own work bring you inner joy, ah, easier said than done. Yes, it’s difficult to labor away, year after year in oblivion, but what else is there to do? Who can decide: should you keep this up or give it up? Only the one, you. Be joyful in the creation of your good work.
This is a true story, and I don’t want to give hope to the hopelessly untalented. I had a cousin in Cape Cod who was married to a musician for years and years. I imagine she thought he was hopeless; she was frustrated, resentful, discouraged. They got divorced. Musician moved to Australia . . . and became a big time recording artist. Cousin is all alone and sad, reminiscing of younger musical days.
Yeats, methinks your poem is sweetly supportive. The artist is brave, whether successful or not. He stands naked in front of the world and must accept the world’s rejection, silence, indifference, scorn, jealousy, mockery, criticism, harsh and ill-formed opinions for everyone to read on Internet reviews. But
the great thing, the brave thing, is that he gets up there and does his art, and does it again, and again. What say you Professor Mark Van Doren so many years ago at Columbia University with your own mad “hot blood of youth” students of English literature “Out naked on the roads” ii who turned the world upside down and faced rejection, scorn, and trials, too?

 
i Yeats, William Butler. “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing.”
ii Yeats, William Butler. “The Cold Heaven.”

Beatdom #15 is now on sale

Beatdom #15 is finally on sale! You can now buy it for the very reasonable price of $8.99 on Amazon.

This issue is all about WAR. People think of the Beats as post-war, entirely separate and disinterested. But we disagree. In this issue we explore the relationship between the Beats and war, from Kerouac and Ginsberg in the navy, to Burroughs’ intergalactic battles, to the influence of postmemory, the British Beat movement as growing out of WWII, and we also talk to (Colonel) Gordon Ball about Allen Ginsberg teaching in the U.S. Army.

Here’s a sneak peak at the contents:

Essays

The Beat Generation at War – David S. Wills

War all the Time – Neil Reddy

War Upon War – Katie Stewart

Everything Changed After the War – GK Stritch

Borne Out of War – Philip Willey

Blood and Black Power on the Streets of Chicago – Pat Thomas

Howl of the Abject – Pamela Kidd

Poetry

The Pickle Shelves – Holly Day

Cold September Air – Marc Olmsted

Morning on my Island in these Times of War – Chris Astwood

GodCop – AD Hitchen

Taxes – Brian Kuhr

Fiction

Blood Drive – Michael Lund

Fringe – Larry Duthie

Interviews and Reviews

Gordon Ball Interview – David S. Wills

The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs – David S. Wills

Carousel Gone

“I hitch-hiked to Asbury Park . . . when I got there, I was exhausted—” i

Carousel gone
“No plans, lady, just making the building stable.
Keep away from the machine.”
Enable me, construction man, to see beyond coarse gritty sand
Mermaid vamp and debauch
Rests upon a tarnished couch
Where goest dream place childhood?
Face the ocean where once we stood
Soggy foggy July morn
Hung over and still forlorn
Parking deck hangs undone
In the midst gray cold no sun
Hope rises with the waves
Knocked down by greedy knaves
And the power of those in power
Ebbs and flows

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

Goetleib and the Path of Least Pleasure

Goetleib, the undisputed arbiter of taste and opinion, was sitting cross-legged in his armchair with a book clamped open in his left hand. He licked at his elongated snout with the thin whip of his tongue. His brow wrinkled suddenly, severely, and he mused out loud

– Gah! I wish Mancuso hadn’t used dashes instead of quotation marks, no, oh my, no, no, no, no…

He turned another page in the book with a flick of his foreclaw and turned to type up what he just said aloud – ‘I WISH MANCUSO HADN’T USED DASHES INSTEAD OF QUOTATION MARKS…’

Very soon (20 pages in, in fact) he became bored of Mancuso’s book, distracted by more of his own puerile thoughts, thoughts about tearing open termite mounds and feasting on the juicy worker bugs inside – and then he remembered he wasn’t allowed to eat insects anymore and the mudhook of sadness sunk itself deep within him.

He sniffed his hose-nose hungrily and braced the book shut before tossing it on the crackling hearth. Goetleib then went about justifying himself to the empty room.

– Poorly copy edited, too much supernaturalism, yes, no unity of effect, no sense of the swelling, impending terror or suspense I’ve come to expect, and then there’s the dashes instead of proper punctuation, no, no, no Mancuso! But the main problem with this book, yes I’d say its main fault, above all else, is that it isn’t written the way I wanted it to be written…

He gave a leonine stretch and was left amused and content by his own corrosive tone – after all, his career was over before it had even begun and he had nothing to lose.

Goetleib had an urge to interfere with himself but remembered that he wasn’t allowed to masturbate anymore either. He suffered from a retrograde disorder that meant when he ejaculated his bladder-sphincter would contract and release semen through his urethra, the path of least pleasure. Goetleib’s dry orgasms were frustrating and made him irritable and rather irrational. This went some way in explaining his scathing condemnations of almost everything he was asked to review.

There was a colony of ants obstructing his ejaculatory duct. They’d survived digestion and set up camp in various pockets of Goetleib’s lower abdomen. The irony was not lost on him, the near-constant pelvic distress serving as casual reminder.

It seemed poor Goetleib wasn’t allowed to do any of the things he enjoyed most, apart from ruining the reputations of writers and musicians that is! He was left cooped up in his deciduous forest home. It was a tragic life in a way.

He often felt the insects milling around inside him and when he thought about the amorphous domes and the supercolony of undigested ants, the desire to masturbate subsided.

He strolled around the grasslands of his estate still very pleased with how he’d dismantled Mancuso’s book so clinically. The anticipation of seeing his critique published gave Goetleib a strange rattle of joy in his testicles. He went up to an easel where he’d been painting non-descript images with his own smeared faeces and took in a smug lungful. His eyes were bathed in tears. Goetleib knew he was a genius.

 

****

 

Around mid-day, his frustration would intensify. It would become too great to ignore, Goetleib decided he would go about committing suicide. Killing himself at this stage of his career would set him in good stead for the future. People might even come to the conclusion that Mancuso’s book had driven him to self-eradication. Goetleib hoped that this would be the case.

He hurried to the drawer in his kitchen and pulled out a long wire extension. He lassoed one of the overhead beams and yanked on the chord until it went taut. Goetleib then mounted his chair and placed the wire over his head. It drooped loosely around his neck. He tightened the ligature and kicked away the chair.

Old Goetleib hung for around 20 seconds, swinging back and forth like an insane ant-eater shaped chandelier, but his hardwood neck refused to break. He felt his penis hard and was suddenly very aware of just how hard it had gotten, before the weak slipknot in the wire unfastened and sent the desperate critic crashing to the floor.

He nursed his garrotted throat for a moment then felt something happening between his legs. Goetleib felt lactescent sperm rise in him, through a different tunnel, a different path – a path of pleasure! – and he collapsed again as it gushed forth in an ridiculous cascade. The ants had been dislodged from his ejaculatory duct and were now parachuting from the widened and raw japseye. Goetleib looked at the puddles of screaming ants in their milky pools of DNA. He leaned over a tiny troupe of disorientated insects and sucked them up through his hose-nose. He sat on his rump and savoured the taste of the ants and cherished his voided testicles. Goetleib found that now he couldn’t stop thinking about Mancuso’s book…

Vanity of July

Tonight it pours for the first time in three weeks
In the hot humid heat of July
I watch from second floor window
As Red Bank streets puddle
Girls carrying packages run down narrow alley
Boys stand in a doorway ready to make mad dash
Happy to see rain wash dry streets
For the first time it’s quiet here
I like the sound of rain
And flash of lightening
Thunder
Empty waterfront streets
I wish it would rain all summer
And stay cool
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” i
I stalked the streets of life, of Manhattan ii
So let me find peace, peace and quiet . . . and a good book
A home meal cooked
And a sweet soul to share this nook
As I turn my back on the world
And its meaningless pursuits
And vanities

i Ecclesiastes 1:2
ii Kerouac, Jack. Vanity of Duluoz, (New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1968). p. 279.

My War

It wasn’t the heat that was getting to me. It wasn’t the seasickness, the overcrowded boat, getting jabbed in the ribs by the butts and muzzles of guns, or even the fact my right knee felt primed to explode.

We had been on the boat for seven hours, just drifting around the Gulf of Thailand, the temperature well above a hundred degrees, and us soldiers wearing itchy woolen shirts and trousers, oversized water-filled boots, and backpacks and guns. The only thing we didn’t have were helmets, which might have helped keep the sun off our heads. Continue Reading…