Jack Kerouac was a huge inspiration for Bob Dylan, the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, and a host of other important writers and artists over the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His magnum opus, On the Road, was one of the most important cultural events in American history, spurring a revolution in literature and effectively creating a counterculture that would shape art and politics for decades to come. Yet Kerouac was not universally loved – in fact, even among his fellow writers, he was often disliked or disrespected. Continue Reading…
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Not many prose writers alive (Céline, Genet, a few others) would dare the freedom and intelligence to trust their own minds, remember they made that jump, not censor it but write it down and discover its beauty. That’s what I look for in K’s prose. He’s gone very far out in discovering (or remembering, or transcribing) the perfect patterns that his own mind makes, and trusting them, and seeing their importance – to rhythm, to imagery, to the very structure of the “novel.”
– Allen Ginsberg, Village Voice (1958) Continue Reading…
This essay originally appeared in Beatdom #15: the WAR issue.
By Pat Thomas
“Black Power: Find out what they want and give it to them. All the signs that mean anything indicate that the blacks were the original inhabitants of this planet. So who has a better right to it?” William S. Burroughs Continue Reading…
From Beatdom #15 – Available now on Amazon as a print and Kindle publication:
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…
Words by Nick Meador
Illustration by Kaliptus
(from issue 10, available at Amazon)
Jack Kerouac’s books contain such a variety of subjects, styles, and voices that his readers have never shared many common characteristics. On the surface, many of Kerouac’s books seem to exude a tone of rebellion against mainstream culture and everything that comes with it, be it business, government, or religion. This voice speaks to the counterculture that has existed in the developed Western world since the 1950s. Similarly, Kerouac’s major works reflect his heavy interest in Buddhism during the ‘50s – an appealing characteristic to the hordes of young Americans disillusioned with their indoctrination under the various denominations of Christianity. Yet behind Kerouac’s Buddhist leanings remained his consistent views about Catholicism, as well as his constant mentions of Christian iconography in his writing. This voice calls to those who never fully departed from the Christianity or Judaism of their youth, often because of the painful experience of disagreeing with family tradition. What most readers don’t know is that Kerouac himself lived almost entirely in this religious mindset, spurning the counterculture altogether. Continue Reading…
By Noel Dávila
On Ginsberg’s anger & kindness, Kerouac’s “homo viator”, Burroughs’ excremental prose and a fateful evening in the American Midwest.
“What is it you want to talk about, in case I have nothing to say?” I received the above message on my phone from Michael Sharp, who I’d been trying to sit down with for nearly three months. As our anticipated encounter approached I wondered at the possibility of yet another setback. Two days before our repeatedly rescheduled talk, I was not pleased with his message. “The Beats”, I replied, “and your experience, interpretation and knowledge of them.” No surprises; simple as that.
However, I was pleasantly surprised at the unexpected outcome of my conversation with Sharp, a respected professor and published poet. His insight provides a clear path leading from the Romantics of the 19th century to the Beats, and then from the Beats to rock & roll. Having attended a reading from Ginsberg, Burroughs and Corso in the 80s, Sharp draws a parallel between these so-called readings and rock shows, hinting at the exhilaration of a performance few can claim to have witnessed.
Trained as a Romanticist and in the literature and ideas of the Nineteenth Century, Michael Sharp’s expertise also encompasses poetry and Victorian literature. I sat down with him at his office in the University of Puerto Rico to discuss why he thinks the Beats were American literature’s first rockers, Burroughs’ genius or lack thereof, and the momentous performance he witnessed at the University of Wisconsin in the 1980s.
How did you first come in contact with the Beats? Was it through their writing or through the live shows?
I think it must have been through reading them, but seeing some of them perform was great also. I saw Burroughs, Ginsberg and Corso on stage at the University of Wisconsin about 25 years ago.
What year was this?
It would’ve been 1980 something… I forget when Ginsberg died – 1997, I think – but certainly all three of them were alive. Corso died in 2000; he’s buried in Rome, you know, next to the poet Shelley in the Protestant Cemetery. Quite close to Keats’ grave. It must have been about ’82 or ’83.
What can you tell me about the show, or the readings?
Well, it was electric. In one corner, Burroughs sat ominously behind a desk, and his fingers, which were very long, hung over the desk, very noticeably. In fact, his fingers were more noticeable than he was. He wore a gray suit, but then he always wore a suit, and he never moved. I think he read from copies of Junky and Naked Lunch in front of him; that’s all he did, he never moved, and his hands remained like this (places hands on desk). Ginsberg had brought his squeeze box and there was a guitarist with him. Corso, who was “the fourth Beat,” after Burroughs, Ginsberg, and Kerouac, was hovering in the background with a bottle of whiskey – loaded, it seemed. It made for good theater and the nice thing about the reading was that while Ginsberg was doing mantras, he was making eyes at and seemed attracted to the guitarist. This intimate sideshow was part of the show which was periodically interrupted by this strange man here who never moved and Corso who flitted around upstage like a ruined dancer.
So they were all three together?
All three. They were on tour. The University of Wisconsin invited artists, mostly classical musicians and orchestras and Ginsberg & Co were part of the season’s offering. The Beat Show was very memorable and the place was packed.
You’d mentioned it was akin to a rock band playing live.
Oh yes, it certainly was. They were American literature’s first rockers. Well, you know they’re related in a way. Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty (On the Road) is a rapper of sorts. Burroughs later associated with Lou Reed, Patti Smith, The Velvet Underground, and The Clash, among others.
There is a line that leads from the Beats to many rock bands.
Bob Dylan was a great fan of Ginsberg, so was Kurt Cobain.
Kurt Cobain actually met William Burroughs and they spent some time together.
Yes. In Graham Caveney’s Gentleman Junkie: The Life and Legacy of William S. Burroughs, there’s a photograph of the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper.. As for Cobain and Nirvana, well, you know, there’s something ‘grungy’ about William Burroughs.
He ventured into other things besides literature: film, acting, multimedia…
He was in a film with Matt Dillon (Drugstore Cowboy). He did a film with Warhol if I remember correctly. He sang as a guest vocalist on Laurie Anderson’s Mister Heartbreak. He painted, of course. When he moved to Kansas he started to paint, apparently giving up writing, if writing is the right word for what Burroughs did.
The cut up procedure.
Norman Mailer said that Burroughs “Is the only American novelist living today that may conceivably be possessed by genius.” Do you think that’s a fair assessment?
Yes, in a way. I read somewhere that Burroughs, in pushing the limit, found himself in the wilderness of what ‘limit’ sometimes might imply. I don’t know about genius. Burroughs is a dirty writer. I don’t mean that pejoratively. He’s visceral, he’s excremental, and he pushes the boundaries, I suppose. Like many French writers of the 19th century: Baudelaire, de Lautréamont, Rimbaud, and Verlaine. He reminds me of Michel Foucault, actually. Foucault pushed the boundaries to the point that he thought that if he went to every bath house in San Francisco, say, he might just cheat AIDS, circumvent it somehow. I don’t know if that makes sense, but there is an adventurism, a great daring in the way that Foucault crossed over in his writing, and I think, perhaps, Burroughs does the same too. Burroughs doesn’t strike me as being the great writer that Mailer claims for him. I think Burroughs did things that people didn’t dare do, or simply couldn’t/wouldn’t do. If that makes him a great writer, fine. Rimbaud, who must have influenced Burroughs, was equally strange, equally courageous, a poetic genius who gave things up to become an arms dealer, of all things. In a way, Burroughs was like Rimbaud; but he simply ‘gave up’ writing later than Rimbaud who quit writing poetry at nineteen.
What’s your take on Burroughs’ drug addiction? What effect do you think it had on his work?
It seems to me to be part and parcel of what it was to be a Beat. You know if it wasn’t LSD, it was peyote. If it wasn’t peyote, it was marijuana. If it wasn’t marijuana, it was Benzedrine. I’m not tremendously sure what they took. Whatever Timothy Leary suggested, I guess!
But he was a life-long opiate addict. Physically he resembled that; pale, skinny…
I suspect there are reasons why people do what they do. Once again, I think Junky pushes the boundaries. It’s a book that hadn’t been written before. It makes de Quincey’s Confessions of an Opium Eater seem quite tame. The closest one is perhaps a book by the Scottish novelist Alexander Trocchi whose Cain’s Book describes the life of an addict living on a barge in New York. I don’t have any take on Burroughs’ drug addiction at all. Rimbaud had deliberately dirty teeth. He and Verlaine misbehaved in public, at dinner parties. One of the things Baudelaire liked to do – though I think this may be apocryphal – was throwing flowers into the Paris pissoirs and watching them disintegrate in the urine. Burroughs watched himself in the mirror, presumably, disintegrating. But then he never seemed to. He lived until he was 80 something. He had criminal friends who presumably kept him supplied. He had money for drugs. Not as much money as everyone said he had, despite his family’s adding machine business. Coleridge was an opium addict. It eventually killed him, but in his last years he was cared for by a concerned doctor in London. I think over the years, Burroughs was in the care of lots of people, one of the people who cared for him was Ginsberg. Not physically, but cared for the phenomenon of William Burroughs. Ginsberg, who was a kindly man, arranged for Junky to be published, edited Naked Lunch, etc.
Ginsberg and Burroughs were both homosexuals. Do you think being vocal and open about their sexuality opened doors to the current struggle for gay rights?
Yes, but it’s not as if homosexuality, being gay, hasn’t been around for a while. I mean they were open about homosexuality. Extending sexual boundaries was part of being a Beat as much as it was exploring the possibilities of drugs and spiritual belief. I think the Beats may have opened the doors for gay rights, but Zen Buddhism in some respects and the spiritual power of search were things that kept them going. As for the homosexuality, I don’t know how important it was. They spent a lot of time in Tangier; it’s still an open city. It’s a lovely city too. In Europe, the Beats, for example, are preceded by the 1890s French symbolists, by Oscar Wilde. Burroughs was apparently as much into paid sex as Wilde was. I don’t know if that’s liberating or even how open Burroughs was a homosexual. There’s a photograph here in Caveney’s book of his having his toes sucked by Brion Gysin, a British painter. Is it his toe? I can’t tell. I think he liked to be photographed. Whether or not his being gay enhances his art, I don’t know. I think there was a real bond between all the men from Cassady to Kerouac, from Ginsberg to Orlovsky, from McClure to Corso. Burroughs liked men – despite having been married – men’s company, simple as that.
What do think of Ginsberg’s “Howl”?
It’s Ginsberg’s masterpiece. It reworks the Biblical rhythms, the insistencies of William Blake’s great poetry against a devouring world. Ginsberg looks for a common humanity in a dehumanizing, consumer-driven post 1945 America. It’s very democratic like Whitman’s poetry. You can’t have a democracy unless you include all people in it. If you exclude gays, for example, then you don’t have a democracy. When Ralph Waldo Emerson was appalled by some of Whitman’s notions, he told him to clean up his act, and Whitman – I imagine – must have said something like “I can’t, because if we want a union, then that union includes people like me who fall in love with men on trams”.
Do you agree with the notion that Ginsberg was the Beat Generation’s leader?
Yes. Howl is the seminal poem. To go back to Burroughs, if it wasn’t for Ginsberg we wouldn’t have Junky as it is, perhaps. It would have never been published. And Naked Lunch, which is the better book, if you can call it that, was edited by Ginsberg. Yes, he’s important. The thing about Ginsberg too was that he was nice to people, a nurse, a wound-dresser like the great Walt. He helped writers whom he believed had talent, rather like Lawrence Ferlinghetti or Kenneth Rexroth. This is one of the things I have always liked about him as a man. Ginsberg was nice despite the rage. Howl is a very angry poem. Ginsberg looked at America in 1950 understanding that he was a different kind of American. Compare them to the “greatest generation” which came back from Normandy and the Pacific and was venerated as the saviors of the new world. The Beats felt left out. The intelligentsia especially felt left out. This is why I think writers like Ginsberg congregated in places like Columbia University in New York City and the University of California- Berkeley in San Francisco.
They broke those old 50s patterns of thought and behavior. Instead they had hedonism, spontaneity, inconformity…
The Ur-Text for all them, it seems to me, whether it’s Corso or Ginsberg, Kerouac or Burroughs is British Romantic poetry. The Romantic poets were rebels, mostly young men (with Mary Wollstonecraft) who felt that a millennial moment was at hand in 1789 with the revolution of France and its enormous social possibilities. Then there was the disappointment of the Terror in 1793 and the split between the younger and older Romantics. Wordsworth and Coleridge were on one side; Byron, Shelley and Keats on the other. Blake was much older, but a revolutionary all the same. All of them, at various stages of their poetic careers wanted to – as Ezra Pound said much latter – “make in new.” There was a common rebelliousness, a common belief in the possibilities of a new world order based on freedom and justice and equality and fraternity and sorority, at least in the western world. There was an enjoyment in the role of the outsider. Look at… Burroughs. There’s an outsider for you. William Burroughs, the man in the gray flannel suit who never moved, the man with long fingers, the man who wrote Naked Lunch, the man who’s a junky, the man who liked rent boys – I’m guessing – the man who knew and liked Jean Genet, Paris, its grime. He was fascinated by criminals, Times Square lowlifes whose circumstances I believe he empathized with. There’s a Shelleyan quality to almost all the men we’ve been talking about. Shelley was the arch-rebel. Shelley gave away his shoes to a beggar in Ireland. He didn’t ask for them back. Metaphorically, his poetry dares you to do the same. He was ‘sent down’ from Oxford for his atheistic views. When his body was cremated on an Italian beach, his heart refused to burn. That’s as good as you get!
The Beat Hotel in Paris.
What I think attracted the Beats to Paris was Rimbaud and Baudelaire. Perhaps it was the studied eccentricity of the poet Nerval and his pet lobster. I think the peeling splendor of Rue Git-Le-Coeur in the 6th arrondissement and its grungy ‘Class 13’ hotel also appealed to them. I’m guessing that they found Tangier much more liberating. They could smoke hashish in the streets, they couldn’t get picked up for particular things, soliciting, say, and they could live relatively open as gays – those of them that were, that is. As for hard drugs, I don’t know. Tangier always strikes me as being the city of the Beats, with the exception of San Francisco and New York, not Paris.
I thought initially that Paris is where you’d seen them perform.
No, I saw them in the American Midwest. I mean, how perfectly junky. Remember Madison is halfway between Columbia and Berkeley!
Any thoughts on On the Road and its lasting influence?
It’s not a book that I’ve found easy to read. Why should it be? But, I do recognize its importance. Dean Moriarty appeals to me. You could say that he’s one of the sources of rap music. Recently a first edition sold for $12,500. Kerouac’s road novels aside, I think where the Beats excelled was the poetry. Corso – remember his “I Am 25”? – “with a love a madness for Shelley”- and Ginsberg were excellent poets. On the Road has lasted, though. It’s a post-Romantic book. Homo viator, man on the road. It’s about two men traveling in Mexico, two men talking, getting into scrapes, falling out with each other. It’s a cool book.
Going back to the performance you saw. When you think back, what sticks out?
I think the thing that made William Burroughs different was the fact that he sat still, oh, and his fingers. That might seem odd. I was totally struck by how somber, how sinister he looked. I thought that Burroughs might not be a man you’d want to find yourself in a room with alone. He struck me as threatening, but then I think that his writings are threatening. To go back to the question about whether he’s a genius or not, perhaps he is because the greatest literature should threaten you in some way: make you think, make you change, make you act. The best of Shelley’s poetry dares you to give away your shoes; if you don’t then you’ve failed the task. I don’t think Burroughs dares you to the needle or dares you into the underworld off Times Square, but there was something singularly odd and different about him, whether you understand it or not. Remember that photograph of him asleep fully clothed on a Tangier beach while Kerouac and Orlovsky beef-cake for the photographer? I’m not sure anything means in Burroughs – nothing has to mean, by the way – but he was a phenomenon and a presence. I think probably I thought he seemed rather evil. I’d just gotten back from Africa when I saw the tickets on sale so I went with my friends Ann, Mike, Marsha, Bob, Ina, and Berger. They’re all Beats still. Someone we knew was writing a doctoral dissertation on the Beats. It was a spectacle and good theater. Burroughs was good theater, it seems to me still. If you look at his face, there’s something quite frightening there. He looked so respectable too. Look at the socks, look at the shoes, the cuffs, the trousers, the hat, and the jacket – but underneath the jacket, of course, he’s wearing a Moroccan jilaba. I love that. Burroughs clearly influenced everybody from Bob Dylan to Kurt Cobain. Somebody once said that Burroughs is as American as the electric chair.
I think that’s a great quote.
Yes, I think it is too. I’m not quite sure what it means. In a way, I think that’s what strikes me about him.
Oh yes, and dangerous. I mean his writings seem to steal fire. They don’t have the quiet Zen, the environmental concerns of Gary Snyder’s poetry, say. But, like Foucault, his notions in their own shockingly Promethean way are dangerous, challenging. Ginsberg, despite the epic rage in Howl, doesn’t strike me as dangerous as Burroughs. Ginsberg viewed his generation as misunderstood and misused just as Shelley understood the tyrannical England of 1819. Burroughs was a gentleman junky. Taken as a metaphor, ‘junkies’ are dangerous people. The best writers strike me as dangerous. Burroughs seems to convey an underworld most of us don’t want anything to do with. Some of the depths that Burroughs touched, or was involved with ultimately seem to have bogged him down in the unknown territory of “limit.” Foucault crossed over, and it killed him. Rimbaud crossed over and became ostensibly someone else, even, according to his sister, accepting Christ on his deathbed. When Kurt Cobain died, I wondered if Burroughs had had something to do with it.
Kurt Cobain was a heroin addict as well, but he didn’t even live to be thirty.
Burroughs died when he was 80 something. Perhaps moving to Kansas cured him. It might have. More so than Rimbaud, I guess, Jean Genet was a perfect model for Burroughs. The petty thief who wrote great books about incarceration, sex, a terrible upbringing – none of which Burroughs had. Genet who was raped in prison or reform school – I forget which – is venerated in France. One of the reasons that Burroughs is so famous in France is because the French like boundary jumpers. Foucault, to the Left, is a God, or was. Philosophers are venerated like rock stars in France. So is Jean Genet. Thieves, murderers, Genet, Burroughs, even the anti-Semitic Céline have a special place in French culture. In Alexander Trocchi’s Cain’s Book – if my memory serves – there’s one sequence in which the hero Joe Necci makes love to woman on some rolling logs. One of the things that he enjoys most about it is that she’s an amputee. I don’t know if that’s supposed to shock you, it’s like punk hairdos or Sid Vicious on stage. Without reading the book, there’s something shocking about the cover of Junky especially when you remember that the man who wrote it looked so much like an accountant. (Points at book) This is a lost look, don’t you think?
Even the way he spoke was kind of strange.
Yes, sepulchral. Like a funeral director. On the other hand, Noel, in some respects I’ve often thought that it was all just a joke – a joke played by Burroughs on all of us. That we can venerate the excremental, the anal, dirt under the fingernails, people who we spend a lot of time avoiding in life because they’ll steal from you, or stab you in the back, transport you to Auschwitz, have you killed. I think Burroughs meant to leave a bad taste in your mouth. Like Bosch or Breugel. Perhaps, however, there is also a monumental empathy at work that ‘cares for the lost souls, for the shoeless of the earth.’ That’s Naked Lunch; chew on that one.
William Burroughs’ brother read “Naked Lunch” and said that it repelled him.
Samuel Beckett, by the way, had a brother who also disapproved of his writings. If Burroughs’ brother disapproved of him, then Beckett and he are in the same camp. Beckett often didn’t quite know how to say what he wanted to say so we are left with what he said – remember Lucky’s speech in Waiting for Godot ? – so if that’s the case with Burroughs, we are similarly left with what he had to say, what he felt. Is he great? Well, he’s different. In a way I think he is great, but I don’t know how, I’m not sure in what way. There was something so much more innocent if you were a Beat and you dressed in a beret and glasses and had a goatee and looked like Dizzy Gillespie, you know? I think Burroughs must have struck everyone in that auditorium as sinister, a touched old man with deep secrets, dark visions.
by James D. Irwin
It’s about ten past four on a Sunday afternoon. I feel like I’ve been beaten up; there is pain… bruises… cuts… none of them I can explain with any certainty. I think I have whiplash. I feel dead and decaying on the inside and all I’ve eaten is an apples, washed down with a few cups of coffee— the diet Christian Bale undertook for his role in The Machinist.
I could be doing this in better, more appropriate conditions. At least the sun is shining through the narrow window of my bare, white-walled room that’s covered in dirty laundry— all my clothes— and patches of mould slowly fading back from where it rained a few nights ago. And so I’m in a hovel of a room feeling like death could come at any moment, and would be quite welcome. But today is the deadline. So I better turn my thoughts to the subject I promised I’d write something on…
More build up first: a few months ago I got into a discussion with a few American friends about the notion of the ‘Great American Rock Band.’ We kind of concluded that there was no such thing. No band could compare to the cultural importance and impact of The Beatles or The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin. America has produced a great many rock bands, but none have the same cache… the same monolithic significance as the British bands that became big in the Sixties and peaked in the mid-Seventies. We talked about how Creedence Clearwater Revival were called ‘The American Beatles,’ but their success doesn’t translate. KISS has the success, but theirs is a success comparable to McDonald’s— the vast sales of products aren’t a signifier of quality.
But then perhaps comparing American groups to British groups doesn’t stand up. Maybe our cultures are just too different. It’s certainly true when it comes to literature. We have different standards… expectations. For example the ‘Great American Novel’ exists, and doesn’t need to compare itself to the British literary canon; it is instead focused more on the truest expression of America. This would draw The Ramones into the mix, but then they’d have to be thrown out. For as much as they embody a lot of the ‘American Spirit’ their music, whilst great, is tied forever to the narrow confines of punk culture, whether it should be or not.
I think perhaps the best we could do is compare the ‘Great American Novel’ to the ‘Great American Band.’ I have a friend who refuses to read American literature, something which I find incredibly narrow minded and downright stupid. There is a perception among some, like my friend, that because ours is the older country, with longer literary tradition ours is just better. And that’s what I was doing with bands earlier on. Maybe CCR are on par with The Beatles.
American literature is slightly different to British literature. Even now ours tends to be in the stuffy, uptight mould of Dickens and the Victorians. It’s modernised, of course, but our literary tradition remains very traditional. That goes for our journalism too. We never had ‘New Journalism’ or ‘Gonzo Journalism’… some of the best writing in the Twentieth Century… Meanwhile I’m getting marked down on my Non-Fictions assignments for not writing ‘properly.’ My tutor writes for The London Times.
I referenced Hunter S. Thompson in an accompanying essay, which didn’t go down well. British writers stuck in the notion of prestigious papers don’t like writers like Thompson. Only poetry professors have any time for Kerouac and the Beats; meanwhile guys like Norman Mailer and George Plimpton don’t get a mention. Neither does Tom Wolfe. So you transformed journalism in the 1960s? Well, not in Britain you didn’t. We like our journalism dry and fact based, keep your opinions to yourself…
Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 introduced me to the band that would eventually become my All Time Favourite Band: the Grateful Dead. They are also the band I think come closest to being ‘The Great American Band’, at least by my measure of comparing them to the ‘Great American Novel.’ Of course for this to stand up I should lay my cards on the table and state what I consider to be the ‘Great American Novel.’ We can safely assume it’s not Spider-Man #1, otherwise I’d still be talking about KISS.
There are strong arguments for a couple of books. It’s not The Catcher in the Rye though— miserable, whiny and a contributing factor to the murder of John Lennon. Huckleberry Finn is basically the sequel to a children’s book— a very good book, but not the greatest. Not the Muhammad Ali of American literature. The Great Gatsby lacks scope and scale… For me it’s not just a case of the Great American Novel, but the greatest novel I have ever read: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
Why? Because it has everything; it is epic in the scale of location, of human emotion… it has humour, sadness, is a timeless slice of history and, perhaps most importantly, has the Joad family chasing the same mythical American Dream Thompson failed to find in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
It’s not my favourite Steinbeck novel either. That would be Cannery Row, in which Steinbeck revisited the Depression with a more romantic, nostalgic eye. One band wrote a song inspired by a rundown building that features in Cannery Row. Unless you’re mentally retarded, or just plain stupid, you can probably guess it was the Grateful Dead— the song being ‘Brokedown Palace’ from 1970’s American Beauty.
Both Steinbeck and the Dead are uniquely American. Britain doesn’t have any writers or bands than can really compare in terms of cultural relevance and significance. And wasn’t that what we were looking for earlier? Both the writer and the band have always been more popular in their own country than they have been in Britain. However, both have also been outsiders in their own time and place too.
The Grapes of Wrath was banned for a long time in a lot of schools and libraries on publication. Similarly the Dead were always an underground, counter-culture band that only the liberals dug and enjoyed. And it’s not like the Dead have always been cool. Through the mid-70s and most of the ‘80s they weren’t counter-culture, but simply obscure and faded. They had a resurgence though, and in 1987 finally scored a number one with ‘Touch of Grey.’
It took a long time, but both Grapes and the Dead finally got the recognition they deserved. Steinbeck’s novel is now widely regarded as one of the best ever, whilst the band from San Francisco finally got a bit of mainstream attention and recognition.
Maybe it’s a bit of a flimsy comparison… It’s not, I don’t think, meant as direct as a comparison as perhaps I’ve been attempting. I don’t know, but as far as I’m concerned the Grateful Dead are as close to a ‘Great American Band’ as there is.
They played at the President’s inaugural ball: Great American Band or not, they are Uncles Sam’s Band…
The 1960s are associated with what Frank calls ‘the big change, the birthplace of our own culture, the homeland of hip’, a period of various shifts that have shaped our current society. This hints at an underlying consensus that the 1960s were a time of high artistic endeavour, the centre of countercultural resistance, and some of the cultural ripples that are still being felt today.
by Jed Skinner
What factors influenced this period of time for this decade to be so prominent? The cluster of significant events that occurred in the late Sixties has led Gitlin to compare this time to ‘a cyclone in a wind tunnel’, and Rabinowitz argues that ‘the 1960s confound representation – or rather narrative – because words fail; image and sound […] are what remain’; events and figures that ‘stand out’ in these ways are those that are likely to receive the most attention. These two arguments enhance the point that, because there are many narratives of the Sixties, each one places emphasis on different aspects of the decade.
When one considers the notion of the Beat generation’s ideas of the Fifties contributing to aspects of the following decade’s culture, art and politics, it can be easy to focus solely on the prominent figures and events, and link them together. When this happens, an inevitable decision is being made: what is worthy of being called Beat, what is worthy of being called Sixties culture, and where such culture lies geographically as well as historically.
A linear narrative where there are, in Negus’ words, ‘distinct breaks involving beginnings and endings or births and deaths’ generates problems. This approach generally fails to acknowledge other perspectives, to account for the voices of people excluded from the narrative. A Vattimo argues, it is only from the ‘victors’ of history ‘that history is a unitary process in which there is consequentiality and rationality’ . What I would like to do in this essay is consider the notion put forward by Laibman, that ‘there was not one 1960s; there were many’. This is not to say that the Beats did not influence anything, and I do not wish to undermine or trivialise their work and its importance. It is also impossible to go into detail about every aspect of Beat culture. However, by looking generally at some of the areas where the Beats’ influence occurred, what it influenced, and to what extent, this will expose other voices and locations, which I hope will better inform the argument I wish to make.
It is important to consider the social contexts of the Fifties to be able to understand why the Beats’ work was considered to be so significant. One of the central themes in historical narratives of the Beats is a description of a prevailing climate of conformity in post-war America. Following the end of World War II, the ideas and ideologies that were driving factors during the conflict were seemingly discredited. Woods argues that, in America, intellectuals began to focus their attention onto ‘the roots of totalitarianism, dissecting evolving notions of democracy and republicanism’. What resulted from this was a more scientific, calculated approach of looking at how society should operate.
Herman argues that planners and policy makers had been convinced by their experiences during World War II that human beings could act very irrationally, because of a teaming, raw, unpredictable emotionality. The chaos that lived at the base of human personality could infect social institutions to the point where society itself would become sick.
It was therefore perceived necessary for American society, if it wished to avoid a repeat of the horrors of the war, to be controlled and contained to some extent from the factors that could lead to such chaos. In the late Forties and early Fifties, the US Congress’ House Un-American Activities Committee held hearings that, as Holton describes, were ‘aimed at persecuting those who did not agree with a narrow definition of political reality’: the most famous instance resulted in scores of Hollywood actors, directors, producers and screenwriters being ‘blacklisted’ from employment for alleged ‘subversive’ activities. What emerges from this climate is what Marcuse describes as ‘a pattern of one-dimensional thought’, whereby ‘ideas, aspirations and objectives that […] transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe’. This manifests itself through the pressure on individuals to behave as part of larger groups, to avoid any particular ‘individuality’. Riesman et al’s 1950 publication The Lonely Crowd describes the rise of the ‘other-directed man’, a new figure, entirely the product of America’s rising managerial class and prosperous post-war economy; a replacement of ‘the traditional “inner-directed”, self made American’. The other-directed man ‘suppressed his individuality, spurned conflict, and sought guidance and approval from the environment around him’. This sort of figure was an ideal target for advertisers using the new medium of television, which contributed to a large shift in the way people bought goods. Towards the end of the 1950s, the US economy had shifted from a ‘production economy’, based around meeting basic human needs, to a market-orientated, consumer economy, which emphasised status over class. This was a phenomenon that inspired Bell to proclaim in 1960 that Western society had reached ‘the end of ideology’, that ‘ideology, which was once a road to action, has come to a dead end’.
Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem Howl made its debut at a poetry reading in 1955, and, Holton argues, ‘seemed to offer the means to break out of the cultural enclosure […] and into a dimension unrecognized in Marcuse’s analysis’. Much has been written about this long poem, but the general consensus has been that Howl expressed a vocal frustration at a stifling, corporate, conforming America, with unrestrained fury and anger. Gitlin argues that Howl was ‘the first time in the American twentieth century’ that ‘poetry read aloud became a public act that changed lives’. In 1957, a year after publication, the work was the focus of an obscenity trial. Debates about the alleged ‘obscenity’ of the text in court helped to bring the poem to wider prominence among those who were outside of Ginsberg’s literary circle. The same year, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road was published, and the two works ‘vaulted from anonymity’ a small group of bohemians who would become known as the Beat Generation.
Why so? Gitlin argues that ‘if the true-blue Fifties was affluence, the Beats’ counter-Fifties was voluntary poverty’. This mindset is best displayed in Norman Mailer’s influential 1959 essay ‘The White Negro’. Here, Mailer holds up a new kind of figure as a solution to the ‘bleak scene’ of society: ‘the American existentialist – the hipster’, who ‘exists in the present, in that enormous present which is without past or future, memory or planned intention, the life where a man must go until he is beat’. In this new world, there are only two options available: rebellion or conformity. ‘One is Hip or one is Square’, he argues, ‘one is a frontiersmen in the Wild West of American night life, or else a Square cell, trapped in the totalitarian tissues of American society’. If one is white (and one must be, to be able to have the choice), the appeal of being hip lies in its existentialist appeal, in its abandonment of a traditional family-centred lifestyle, and the adoption of social mores from a dangerous, excluded Other: ‘the Negro’. This, in Mailer’s view, is where the source of hip lies, in Negro music (‘jazz’), Negro life choices (‘a life of constant humility or ever-threatening danger’), and Negro philosophy (‘he kept for his survival the art of the primitive, he lived in the enormous present’). Therefore the hipster is ‘a white Negro’, having ‘absorbed the existentialist synapses of the Negro’.
Although grossly laden with racial stereotypes of a pre-Civil rights era America, Frank argues that ‘The White Negro’ ‘managed to predict the basic dialectic around which the cultural politics of the next thirty-five years would be structured’. However, there is a difference between two different kinds of ‘Beat’ sensibilities that have been established: the literary type epitomised by Ginsberg and Kerouac on one side, and the ‘hipster’/’beatnik’ on the other. This is not to say that the ‘literary’ Beats did not have any of the ‘hipster’ qualities – far from it. Rather, as Starr argues, contemporary critics tended to argue that ‘true’ Beats such as Ginsberg and Kerouac made ‘literary creativity a focal point of their lives’, whereas others, who would qualify as ‘hipsters’ or ‘Beatniks’, merely attended jazz clubs and visited coffeehouses, and were insignificant. Furthermore, the prominent Beat figures, with a few exceptions (such as Bob Kaufman and Amiri Baraka), were white, and were overwhelmingly from middle-class families.
Consequently, Beats have generally been portrayed as a minority of generally white, literary articulate intellectuals; scholars ‘understand the Beat Generation in terms of a literary avant-garde and evaluate its historical significance accordingly’. The others – the Beatniks – were from differing socio-cultural and racial backgrounds, and were considerably larger in number than the ‘literary’ Beats. As Beat poet Diane di Prima recalls, that around the time of Howl’s publication, ‘there were only a small handful of us’. The traditional argument described by Starr – that Beats were ‘a small group of cultural radicals’ – generates a situation where ‘the broader parameters of the Beat Generation’ become ignored.
When considering the notion of ‘Beat ideas’, it is important to consider the ideas of those from outside the pantheon of literary figures. Although Ginsberg, Kerouac and the like were obviously important to the Beatniks, which should not be underestimated, it is also the case that the Beatniks were equally important as the literary figures in connecting notions of Beat ideas with others from outside the scene. Starr notes that repeated police visits of coffeehouses in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles and allegations of police bribery against owners, had resulted in marches, pickets and sit-ins against police harassment during the late 1950s through to the early 1960s. As the Beats mobilized to defend themselves from police harassment, they ‘forged alliances with community leaders and civil liberties groups to defend their position within the urban landscape’ in the process. It could be argued that the ideas expressed in literary form by the Beat authors were in turn acted on by a wider circle of many groups, whose significance is crucial to the Beats’ continuing cultural standing. As these people gathered together in urban areas, ‘enclaves’ of Beat social networks began to be created, comprised of people with similar tastes and values.
The existence of a Beat enclave in North Beach, San Francisco, and a few years later, the large hippie community of Haight-Ashbury, can be constructed as a physical, direct line of influence from the Beats to the hippies – and therefore a demonstration of Beat influence on 1960s culture. I would argue that the Beats were influential in the culture of the Sixties, but their influence was predominantly on the construction of the ‘counterculture’. What the counterculture entails is complex: it is, in Marwick’s view, a term used ‘to refer to the many and varied activities and values which contrasted with, or were critical of, the conventional values and modes of established society’; however, ‘counterculture’ also means different things to different people, and as Marwick argues, ‘there was no unified, integrated counter-culture, totally and consistently in opposition to mainstream culture’. In addition, Marwick cites the first instance of the term in 1968 in the highbrow publication The Nation, whereas contemporary writer Thomas Albright uses ‘underground’ in a 1968 Rolling Stone article. What I mean by ‘counterculture’ is a rough amalgam of alternative ways of living, literary works, art, music and politics, but not a definable movement with a firm link to any ideology or political persuasion. Its origins lie in the Beat enclaves that were created by people moving to towns such as San Francisco and New York, where the Beat writers lived and worked. Certain areas, such as North Beach in San Francisco, Greenwich Village in New York, and Venice in Los Angeles, were home to an infrastructure of coffeehouses, theatres, bars and spaces founded and frequented by these people, who all resided there in pursuance of ‘alternative’ life choices, separated from the all-encompassing ‘mainstream’ culture.
The hippie scene, which began in San Francisco and is almost universally portrayed as the ‘image’ of the counterculture (if not the Sixties), can be considered to be heavily influenced by the Beats primarily for geographic reasons. As Puterbaugh notes, when Beatniks began to move to San Francisco, the housing of choice was the old Victorian mansions of the Haight-Ashbury area, which were available for low rent. The Beat poet Michael McClure notes that the geographic proximity of the Haight-Ashbury area to North Beach meant that there were ‘people overlapping each other from what had been a number of separate existences’, creating a ‘huge, fluid scene’ of people with similar tastes and interests. As Shank notes, such scenes can be an outlet for creativity to move beyond ‘locally significant cultural values’ towards ‘an interrogation of dominant structures of identification, and potential cultural transformation’, through the exploration of new identities and collective involvement. In this case, the large number of people moving to San Francisco in the 1960s made it possible for resident Beats, Beatniks and their values to mingle with those who were new to the counterculture scene and city. Albright argues that ‘certain major strands’ of Beat values became infused in the development of the new scene: the Beats’ self-conscious ethos of ‘dropping out’ of a perceived establishment lifestyle; the ‘intense and programmatic’ alienation of Beats from mainstream notions of society; a focus on Orientalism, Eastern mysticism and European existentialism; recreational drug use in pursuit of a ‘total experience’; a ‘worship of Art, in true romantic tradition’; and the elevation of music to an art form (jazz for the Beats, rock in the counterculture scene). These bohemian enclaves established by the Beats ensured that a sense of community was able to exist.
As Cohen notes, some of the factors which unite people in the ongoing development of a music scene are ‘age and gender, webs of interlinking social networks and a gossip grapevine’, all of which could be found in these enclaves. The San Francisco scene allowed musical developments such as acid rock to develop: a type of music spawned partly from Ken Kesey’s ‘Acid Tests’, where LSD-spiked Kool-Aid was freely distributed to people, often without their knowledge. (A direct beat connection lies in the fact that Kesey and his ‘Merry Pranksters’ travelled around the US on a ‘magic bus’, driven by Neal Cassady, the real life Dean Moriarty in Kerouac’s On the Road). Gitlin notes that ‘the Acid Tests evolved into Trips Festivals and scheduled concerts, with a new sound – spacy, unbounded whorls, not discrete songs: acid rock’. Acid rock bands that rose from this scene include the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and others, all based in San Francisco. Fertile artistic grounds were also present in New York: three of the four Mamas and Papas met in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, and Bob Dylan resided there. However, the problem with reading the counterculture as Sixties culture is that its prime geographical locations and most fertile grounds were in these enclaves, in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and others; in the United States, in the Western hemisphere. ‘Sixties culture’ has various connotations depending on where one looks. A cultural ‘revolution’ in America is something very different to the Cultural Revolution that took place in China during the 1960s, where millions of people died. Even if one only looks at America, there are large differences in the late 1960s between the various areas of the country. The Civil Rights movement, with its figurehead Martin Luther King, fought against corrupt politicians, police and racists in the struggle for racial equality. There were no Beat enclaves in the Southern states of America, with segregation existing until (and even beyond) the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed it. Instead, to pursue a freer lifestyle, people were to travel away from the South, to escape to these other places, else be excluded from having a choice. The consequence has been that the influence of the Beats upon wider areas of society in America is actually quite varied. In particular, the extent to which Beats were politically active is of interest.
In 1952, Beat poet John Clellon Holmes wrote of the hipster, ‘there is no desire to shatter the ‘square’ society in which he lives, only to elude it. To get on a soapbox or write a manifesto would seem to him absurd’. Later, however, some Beats became more radicalised. Starr notes how Chester Anderson, editor of the Beat magazines Beatitude and Underhound, addressed a rally against police maltreatment in North Beach in 1960, advising the crowd to ‘sue’ the police and to ‘fight back in every legal way’ if treated unfairly. John Haag, owner of the Venice West Café in Los Angeles, was heavily involved with the Civil Rights movement in the mid-1960s, including the Congress of Racial Equality, the American Civil Liberties Union, and organizations fighting police harassment. However, it seems that because the enclaves were to some extent ‘removed’ from what could be considered the ‘mainstream’ of society, not all Beats actively pursued political involvement. The actual extent to which Beat ideas were able to shape aspects of society through politics was very much dependent on the individuals involved, and whether or not these ideas were taken up by others.
In the 1960s, student-led political organizations, comprised of people including Beats, were formed. These included the Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee, founded in 1960, and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). It is possible that as these organizations grew, those Beatniks that were most politically inclined became more involved with these and other such groups. As the Vietnam War escalated from the mid-1960s, the SDS attracted new members. Sale describes these people as non‑Jewish, nonintellectual, nonurban, from a nonprofessional class, and often without any family tradition of political involvement, much less radicalism. They tended to be not only ignorant of the history of the left and its current half‑life in New York City, but downright uninterested.
I do not wish to argue that SDS was ineffectual or apathetic, but as Miller argues, ‘many recruits were drawn to SDS not by left-wing ideology but by their opposition to the war and the draft […] and their attraction to the counterculture’. This is interesting, because one of the criticisms of the counterculture, as Frank argues, is that it ‘is said to have worked a revolution through lifestyle rather than politics […] through pleasure rather than power’. An example of such an argument is Puterbaugh’s claim that the Grateful Dead were ‘largely responsible for the spread of the counterculture and its perpetuation over time’. Why? Because they were ‘primarily associated with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, having provided an acid-blues soundtrack as the house band for the anarchic Acid Tests’. It can be deduced that the counterculture was primarily an artistic outlet: a leisure-based lifestyle choice. This is queried by Harrington, who 1972 wonders if ‘the mass counterculture may not be a reflection of the very hyped and video-taped world it professes to despise’. The counterculture ultimately became a ready-made market for advertisers: the central countercultural notion of ‘hip’ was the capital most sought after in connection with a brand. Perhaps the most notorious example was Columbia Records’ advertisement in a 1968 edition of Rolling Stone: its slogan was ‘The Man Can’t Bust Our Music’: some distance away from the Beat venerations of existentialism, voluntary poverty, personal and spiritual release.
Miller notes that, by 1967, liberal-leaning politicians ‘were giving friendly speeches at antiwar rallies, defining moderate opposition as an acceptable part of the political spectrum’. When the new capitalist incarnation of ‘hip consumerism’, Harrington argues that ‘bohemia could not survive the passing of its polar opposite and precondition, middle class morality’. Once this had disappeared, ‘bohemia was deprived of the stifling atmosphere without which it could not breathe’.
However, what is important to consider is that the influence of Beat ideas, at the most basic level, offered an alternative way of living in American post-war conventionality, stemming from a time, Jameson argues, where ‘no society has ever been so standardized’. As Starr notes, the Beat communities, through the utilization of public space in urban, bohemian enclaves, had challenged racial segregation, homophobia and ‘created a vibrant counterculture which facilitated individual liberation and collective political action’. These achievements have been built upon by countless activists who have progressively challenged such discrimination from the Fifties, through the Sixties to the present. The Beats’ valuation of personal freedom through artistic expression resulted in the founding of enclaves and artistic scenes where this expression could be explored at a remove from the more ‘mainstream’ ways of living. This legacy has influenced not just the Sixties, but those wishing to pursue alternative ways of living through to the present day.
Albright, Thomas, ‘Visuals: How the Beats Begat the Freaks’, originally published in
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Harrington, Michael, ‘We Few, We Happy Few, We Bohemians’, Esquire, August 1972.
Herman, Ellen, The Century of the Self (dir. Adam Curtis), episode 2, broadcast 30.4.2002, BBC4.
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Science & Society, 65(1) (2001), 3-4.
Mailer, Norman, ‘The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster’, in Mailer,
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Press, 1992) pp.337-359.
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States, c.1958-c.1974 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).
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Negus, Keith, Popular Music Theory (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1996), p.136-7.
Puterbaugh, Parke, ‘The Beats and the Birth of the Counterculture’, in George-Warren,
Holly (ed.), The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats: The Beat Generation and the Counterculture (London: Bloomsbury, 1999), pp.357-363.
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Curious Documentary’, Science & Society, 65(1) (2001), 72-98.
Riesman, David, Nathan Glazer and Reul Denney, The Lonely Crowd (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950).
Sale, Kirkpatrick SDS (New York: Random House, 1973).
Shank, Barry, Dissonant Identities: The Rock’n’Roll Scene in Austin, Texas (Hanover, NH:
Wesleyan University Press, 1994).
Starr, Clinton R., ‘“I Want to Be with My Own Kind”: Individual Resistance and Collective
Action in the Beat Counterculture’, in Skerl, Jennie (ed.), Reconstructing the Beats (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp.41-54.
Vattimo, Gianni, ‘Dialettica, differenza, pensiero debole’, in Vattimo, G. and P. A. Rovatti
(eds), Il pensiero debole (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1983), in Iain Chambers, ‘Maps for the
Metropolis: A Possible Guide to the Present’, Cultural Studies 1(1) (1987), 1-21.
 Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997), p.1.
 Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (New York; London: Bantam, 1993), p.242.
 Paula Rabinowitz, ‘Medium Uncool: Women Shoot Back; Feminism, Film and 1968 – A Curious Documentary’, Science & Society, 65(1) (2001), 72-98, p.73.
 Keith Negus, Popular Music Theory (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1996), p.136-7.
 Gianni Vattimo, ‘Dialettica, differenza, pensiero debole’, in G. Vattimo and P. A. Rovatti (eds), Il pensiero debole (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1983), in Iain Chambers, ‘Maps for the Metropolis: A Possible Guide to the Present’, Cultural Studies 1(1) (1987), 1-21, p.19.
 David Laibman, ‘Editorial Perspectives: An Intense and Many-Textured Movement’, Science & Society, ibid., 3-4, p.3.
 Randall Bennett Woods, Quest for Identity: America Since 1945 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p.151.
 Ellen Herman, in The Century of the Self (dir. Adam Curtis), episode 2, broadcast 30.4.2002, BBC4.
 Robert Holton, ‘Beat Culture and the Folds of Heterogeneity’, in Jennie Skerl (ed.), Reconstructing the Beats (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp.11-26, p.12.
 Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man (Boston, MA: Beacon, 1964), p.12.
 David Riesman, Nathan Glazer and Reul Denney, The Lonely Crowd (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950), p.17.
 Woods, p.134.
 Ibid, p.127.
 Ibid., p.123.
 Ibid, p.151.
 Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000 ).
 Ibid, p.393.
 Holton, p.17.
 Gitlin, p.45.
 Holton, p.11.
 Gitlin, p.46.
 Norman Mailer, ‘The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster’, in Mailer (ed.), Advertisements for Myself (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992) pp.337-359, p.339.
 Ibid., p.341.
 Frank, p.246.
 Clinton R. Starr, ‘“I Want to Be with My Own Kind”: Individual Resistance and Collective Action in the Beat Counterculture’, in Reconstructing the Beats, pp.41-54, p.41.
 Ibid., p.47
 Ibid., p.43.
 Ibid., p.50.
 Arthur Marwick, The Sixties: Cultural Revolution in Britain, France, Italy and the United States, c.1958-c.1974 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p.12.
 Ibid., p.11.
 Thomas Albright, ‘Visuals: How the Beats Begat the Freaks’, originally published in Rolling Stone, 9, April 27, 1968, in Holly George-Warren (ed.), The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats: The Beat Generation and the Counterculture (London: Bloomsbury, 1999), pp.351-356, p.351.
 Parke Puterbaugh, ‘The Beats and the Birth of the Counterculture’, in The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats, pp.357-363, p.357.
 Michael McClure, ref. in Puterbaugh, p.362.
 Barry Shank, Dissonant Identities: The Rock’n’Roll Scene in Austin, Texas (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), p.122.
 Albright, p.352-5.
 Sara Cohen, ‘Scenes’, in Bruce Horner and Thomas Swiss (eds.), Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), pp.239-250, p.241.
 Gitlin, p.207.
 John Clellon Holmes, ‘This is the Beat Generation’, New York Times Magazine, November 16th, 1952, ref. in Gitlin, p.51.
 Ibid, p.51.
 Starr, p.52.
 Jo Freeman, ‘On the Origins of Social Movements’, in Jo Freeman and Victoria Johnson (eds.), Waves of Protest: Social Movements since the Sixties (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), pp.7-24, p.8.
 Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS (New York: Random House, 1973), p.204-5.
 Frederick D. Miller, ‘SDS and Weatherman’, in Waves of Protest: Social Movements since the Sixties, pp.303-324, p.313.
 Frank, p.15.
 Puterbaugh, p.360.
 Michael Harrington, ‘We Few, We Happy Few, We Bohemians’, Esquire, August 1972, p.164.
 See < http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/electronic-publications/stay-free/archives/15/timeline2.html> [accessed 7th May 2009].
 Miller, p.312.
 Frank, p.26.
 Harrington, p.99.
 Frederic Jameson, The Seeds of Time (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), p.17.
 Starr, p.53.