Archives For September 2014

What’s Next for Beatdom? You Decide.

In the past, Beatdom has covered many topics with our themed issues. Since we converted from general Beat-themed issues to specific themes with Beatdom #6, we have looked at the following:

#6 – Travel

#7 – Music

#8 – Sex

#9 – Drugs

#10 – Religion

#11 – Nature

#12 – Crime

#13 – Drinking

#14 – Movies

#15 – War

Next year we mark our eighth anniversary with Beatdom #16 and for the first time we’d like to take suggestions for the issue’s theme. What would you, the reader, like us to cover?

Count by Any Other Name

“Basie’s stuff means something.” i Jack Kerouac, Horace Mann Record

Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography of Count Basie as told to Albert Murray (first edition 1985) is something like the Count’s music: it’s not only about the notes he plays, it’s also about the notes he leaves out. This is more a “tell some” rather than a “tell all,” and so be it. Basie plays it straight and simple, like his music, and the subject of the book is that: the music, jazz, and all those great jazz players. Count enjoyed a sixty-year career as pianist, band leader, composer, and arranger.
It’s a delight “listening” to William Basie tell his story. It couldn’t have been easy in those early years, but Count sheds a gracious light on events with gentleness, style, and humor, and some very funny stories that go back to the glory days of Kansas City and the early New York years with the likes of Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, and everybody in the jazz world. A good read for jazz enthusiasts who want to glean some insight in a world long gone.
Apparently, young William, newly arrived in New York City, was so green he (and Elmer Williams, sax player) got these remarks from Sonny Greer, Duke Ellington’s drummer from Long Branch, New Jersey, “Hey, where you two farmers think you going? . . . . Hey, what you two country boys doing up here in the big city?” ii Small town Red Bank being the farm, and, for the record, Long Branch being a few shore towns away.
Was Count called Count because the jazz world had a Duke, King, Earl, Baron? iii Or as Bennie Moten suggests was it more, “Aw, that guy ain’t no ‘count.” and “Where is that no ‘count rascal?”
“no ‘count, as the old expression goes.” iv
Count makes strides, develops, and has his own ideas, “I had been around long enough and gotten into enough to call myself a New York musician . . . I was not from Red Bank anymore. I was from New York.” v Count makes clear that Red Bank is in the past and he hightailed it out of there, fast.
He relates an amusing account about an Apollo Theatre backstage incident. “I’m standing there in the wings, this mean old bastard working back there starts signifying me . . . I’m standing there shaking already, and this son of a gun is . . . talking so loud so I can’t help hearing him.” The work man grumbles away, “Now here’s the great Count Basie back here. The great Count Basie! Well, I want to hear this. The great Count Basie. Now we’ll find out what he’s going to do in New York!” vi The man goes on and on, won’t give Basie a break, and it gets worse.
But Count finds himself and forges his identity, “Talking about jumping at the Woodside . . . it came to me that I really wasn’t William Basie or Bill Basie the piano player from Red Bank anymore. From now on and for better or worse I was Count Basie, the bandleader out of Kansas City, back in New York.” vii Small town boy does well, takes on the world as Count, and does so with a lot of good times and great jazz.
i Kerouac, Jack. Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings. (New York: Penguin) 2000. pp. 21-22.
ii Basie, William. Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography of Count Basie. (New York: Da Capo Press) 1995. p.51.
iii Ibid., pp. 146-147.
iv Ibid., pp. 146-147.
v Ibid., p. 84.
vi Ibid., p. 190.
vii Ibid., p. 196.

The Kid from Red Bank

“Count Basie’s swing arrangements are not blaring, but they contain more drive, more power, and more
thrill than the loudest gang of corn artists can acquire by blowing their horns apart.” i
Jack Kerouac

Count, bink-bink!
The Kid from Red Bank
On the River Navesink
Red Bank Boogie
One O’Clock Jump
Stomp and stamp and stump the band
Give the man a mighty hand
Tinkling keys
Fats Waller knees
William Basie’s simple swing
Keep your flashy bling-bling-bling
Count will swing and swing and ring
Timing
Elegant and clean
Flowing rhythm
Jumping beat
Meet you on Mechanic Street
Lobster twitching up a leg ii
Mobsters in old Kaycee days
Billie,
Lester,
and Jo Jones,
Thad and Mr. Quincy Jones,
Frank (The Kid from Hoboken) once but skin and bones

i McNally, Dennis. Desolate Angel: A Biography, Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America. (New York:
Random House. 1979). p. 38.
ii Horricks, Raymond. Count Basie and His Orchestra: Its Music and Its Musicians. (New York: The Citadel Press.
1957). p. 23.

The Beat Generation at War

 

From Beatdom #15 – Available now on Amazon as a print and Kindle publication:

Beat Generation War Quotes

The Beat Generation is often viewed as apolitical, apathetic, selfish, and borne out of the post-WWII era of prosperity. They are viewed as rich kids who chose a bohemian lifestyle as a matter of fashion, as part of a teenage rebellion that went on too long, and inspired too many imitators, and eventually morphing into the beatniks and hippies of the fifties and sixties. Getting to the heart of the Beat ethos isn’t easy, as this is a literary grouping of rather different individuals, over a long period of time, with entirely different philosophies and styles relating to their art. That “post-WWII era” label, then, is important in defining them. If we must group them together, we can define them by opposition to the oppressive society in which they lived. They supported sexual freedom, opposed big government, and pondered to what extent madness was a path to genius. Continue Reading…

Tristessa

Tristessa
Black tresses
Dirty dresses
You mess-a
Mucha lucha,
Muchacha, señorita
Esperanza
Junk is a drag
“It is a way of life.” i
Just ask BOOL
No gains, all loss
(Not everyone as smart as old Harvard Lee, anthropologist)
Junk is called junk because it is junk
“They all looked like junk.” ii
Hope is gone, Esperanza
Replaced with junk
Sickness
Hopelessness
Tristessa
Junk is a drag
Junkies are a drag
Goodbye peachy coffee complexion
Black satin hair
Madonna ways
Adios, Tristessa
“ . . . I don’t like what it does to people.” iii

i Burroughs, William S. Junky: The definitive text of “Junk.” (New York: Penguin Books. 2003), p. xxxix.
ii Burroughs, William S. Junky: The definitive text of “Junk.” (New York: Penguin Books. 2003), p. 25.
iii Burroughs, William S. Junky: The definitive text of “Junk.” (New York: Penguin Books. 2003), p. 59.