I hopped the BART train for the short ride under the bay from Fremont to San Francisco. It was 1995 and the newest incarnation of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art had recently opened. I had heard that the masterwork of my former painting teacher was now on “permanent” display there. It was Jay DeFeo’s The Rose. Continue Reading…
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“In the air-cooled museum Phil spent ten minutes in front of a portrait of Jean Cocteau by Modigliani. . . .Then we both stopped in front of Tchelitchew’s Cache-Cache and looked at that for a while.” And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, 2008, (174).
The morning after he murders his long-term friend, Ramsay Allen, Phillip Tourian and his other friend, Mike Ryko, spend the hot summer day at bars, a 42nd Street penny arcade, the New York Public Library park, a movie, another bar, and then the Museum of Modern Art.
Modigliani’s portrait is soothing and elegant and presents the young, neatly-combed, well-dressed subject with eyebrows slightly askance sitting upright in a chair with hands serenely folded. He looks not unlike a young man sitting across from a lawyer or district attorney or influential uncle or Columbia dean.
The Russian-born Tchelitchew’s surreal Cache-Cache (Hide and Seek) is more unsettling with its anxiously searching mother as subject. This is a large, six-feet-square painting and Tchelitchew’s most significant work. It was painted in 1940-1942, so it was a new painting for the two young men viewing it in 1945 when the story takes place. Much of the artist’s work suggests “psychosexual conflict and homoerotic longing” i and that was exactly the nature of the tangled relationship between Phillip and Allen and the murder. As Will Dennison (William Burroughs) writes in the first chapter, when Al and Phillip “get together something happens, and they form a combination which gets on everybody’s nerves.” So the relationship was combustible to a violent finale.
How both of these paintings fit into this story is a deft example of the perception of both writers. I tend to disagree with critics who deem And the Hippos as not quite worthy. Not only that, but critics of the Beats, particularly critics of Jack Kerouac, seem to miss his marvelous humor. Burroughs, it almost goes without saying, is hilarious in his dry, no-nonsense way. This is the story of a murder but it’s entertaining. The book ends with Will relating, “Phillip’s uncle fixed everything up and had the boy committed to the state nuthouse.” Danny, Will’s gangster acquaintance—an arsonist wanted by the FBI—concludes, “Well, he can go into politics when he gets out.”
The end of a season, the end of a life, the end of a young man’s freewheeling ways at summer’s end—always a sad event—but the paintings remain unchanged on museum walls.
i Mendelsohn, Meredith. (August 27, 1998). Pavel Tchelitchew: Landscape of the Body. ArtNet Magazine. www.artnet.com/magazine
As we move towards our 5th anniversary (that’s in May, folks, get ready to celebrate!) Beatdom is putting together its eleventh issue. The theme of this upcoming issue is Nature. That’s right, another fairly obvious topic, following on from Drugs and Religion. Granted, this one is a bit less controversial, but it is nonetheless a topic on which we could take any number of approaches.
As usual, we are primarily seeking essays. The rule of thumb in regards Beatdom submissions is this: Essays get read first. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about poems and stories; but essays take up the bulk of the magazine. We appreciate each and every submission, but we have to prioritize.
So, we imagine you probably have your own ideas for what to write about, but if not, here are some starters:
- Kerouac’s time in the wilderness
- Gary Snyder
- The Beats as an urban movement?
- Ginsberg and Burroughs’ trips into the jungle
- The influence of nature upon Beat poetics
- Environmentalism in literature
And of course there are many, many more. Please let us know asap what you are planning to submit in order to avoid having all our writers covering the same topic.
If you are planning to submit poetry, fiction, or art, please don’t feel left out. Your submissions are welcome. Be warned, though: the “slush pile” of poetry submissions is massive. We can’t guarantee a reply to these submissions unless we plan on using your poem in the magazine. All submissions, whether fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or otherwise, should ideally concern the topic of Nature.
For all submissions, please be professional. Include a cover letter with some short biographical details, a little about what you are submitting and why, and your submission as an attachment. If you send a blank e-mail with an attachment, or something like “heres what i just rote dude im sure u dig it”, then your submission will not be read. If your submission is comprised mostly of typos, it will also probably go unanswered.
Sorry to throw down so many rules, but as Beatdom grows, so does the number of submissions received, and the task of editing the magazine grows ever more difficult. Rest assured, we do appreciate everyone who shows interest in the magazine.
All submissions to the usual address: editor [at] beatdom [dot] com. Deadline: April 1st (no foolin’).