COLUMN THIRTY, FEBRUARY 1, 1998
(Copyright © 1998 Al Aronowitz)
I'M NOT DEAD YET
From: Jack Saunders
Subject: Big Texas Tenor
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 1998 05:33:33 -0000
Didn't know James Clay was dead until I read your piece on David Newman, which mentions "recently deceased hardluck story James Clay."
I think that's me, only I'm not dead yet. I am a Wewahitchka, Florida writer.
Supposed to go to New York, they say.
Well, Faulkner went to Hollywood. And he went to New York on business.
I'll go to New York on business. When they send for me.
I am waiting for the mountain to come to Mahomet.
I used to hear Clay and Fathaid do their tenor battle scene at Woodman Hall, in Dallas.
Also remember Jack Ruby's Carousel, where Candy Barr was one of the strippers. They sent her to jail on a marijuana charge, thinking she would rat out her gangster boyfriend, but she did her time like a stand-up guy.
I believe there's a Candy Barr web site. 50s porn nostalgia. Donkey films. Fraternity parties. I was a GI then, and not a college boy.
In fact, when I was a college boy I wasn't a college boy.
That's what I'm writing about now. Having just finished writing about my tours in Waco, Texas, and Okinawa.
I like your idea of writing a column a month on the Internet.
I am writing a column a month this year. Only each column is book-length.
I can't find a publisher for my book either, and give it away, like you do.
I haven't opened a home page on myself and put my book online. I'm hoping to find a publisher to do that.
Roland Kirk said anything you have to do, you have to go on and do yourself.
I have day job, and my employer is conservative. Plus, in my book, I reveal that I am in violation of a couple of their policies, written and unwritten. I don't want to confront them with my contumacy, since I don't make jack shit writing and am too old to find another job as good as the one I have.
If I could make a technical writer's wages writing enema verite, I'd make the leap. If I can't, I'm better off staying in the closet.
So I have this ambivalence about attracting attention to myself.
I both have to, if I'm ever to get out of the box I'm in, and can't, if I want to support myself and my family. Want to and dare not.
I think it's a common dilemma for creative people. Most people resolve it before my age, and opt for the life of the bohemian scuffler or the bourgeois strainer. The two are in equipoise in me, fighting it out for my earthly vehicle.
I write about the result.
Set up and resolve such antinomies in my life.
That is, like a John Coltrane solo, I don't resolve it, but blow chorus after fertile chorus. Elvin Jones said once in Philadelphia he played one song for three hours.
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JUNE 12, 1998
From: "David Roche"
Subject: concerning event in central park 6/12-6/13
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 97 12:37:11 PST
Attn: Al Aronowitz. I've been a three decade or longer fan of the beats. At the present time I'm in school, in my next to old age, and I'm doing eight credit of study on the beats. your information has been , or I should say, will be, very helpful.
I wouldn't mind reading some of my poetry at the 6/12/97 event. Just a couple weeks before Bill Burroughs died I watched 'A Junkies Christmas' and was inspired to write this poem:
William S. Burroughs
the prince of cool,
he's more than cool
as cold as ice,
he has liquid N20
running in his veins.
He's so cold he muses,
"I must be dead, oh well,"
and deliberates no longer
on the matter.
If you'd like to use this poem all I ask is that you mention my name as the author and possessor to all the rights due to an author.
Thank you for your time and God bless.
David H. Roche E Mail to email@example.com
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LAST BEATNIK, FIRST HIPPIE
Date: Fri, 09 Jan 1998 05:25:27 -0800
From: Charles Potts
Subject: Funding and parameters
Thanks for the update on the Best Minds. I think just honoring Allen Ginsberg would give the operation a tighter focus and draw just as many people. Adding Burroughs, and or the entire beat generation, and pretty soon you'll be doing a retrospective of the 1950s and 60s. Ok perhaps, but difficult to draw to. As someone once described by his art teacher as either the last beatnik or the first hippy, I'm slightly younger and focused on other examples. As for funding, have you contacted Ferlinghetti? or New Directions? as Ginsberg's publishers, they stand to benefit from the attention through increased sales.
PO Box 100
Walla Walla WA 99362-0033
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AND FROM JERUSALEM
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 1997 19:45:41 +0200
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark H Kirschbaum, MD)
Subject: Re: JUNE 12 & 13, 1998
I just want to add that we here in Jerusalem (as part of the Jerusalem Slam) had a wonderful Ginsberg memorial the night he died- we had been able to mobilise over 50 people by phone, and had a terrific night- we did a round reading of Kaddish, people read various different Ginsberg pieces that were meaningful to them (one fellow, who studied Islamic Sufism with a master in East Jerusalem, did a remarkable performance of the Yahweh versus Allah piece), some read original works based on or influenced by the works of AG, and at the end, an elementary school classmate of his, now living here, told some anecdotes (they remained friendly through the sixties), performed Howl, and then read the real Kaddish for him. We taped the event if it is of interest to anyone. We would be glad to link up in some way to the larger community's memorial services.
Mark H Kirschbaum, MD
Dept of Bone Marrow Transplantation
Hadassah University Hospital
Ein Kerem, Jerusalem
Moderator, Isramed list
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A VOTE FOR A JOINT EVENT JUNE 12
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 1956 13:05:02 +0000
From: Carl Hanni
Subject: Re: ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
>Al--Carl Hanni from Portland (Poetland) here. I'm a mere speck in this committee, but I FULLY SUPPORT the idea of a joint Ginsberg/Burroughs event. In fact, that's when I started making my plans to attend. Burroughs' influence is incalculable. He is like one of the virus' he liked to write about--a truth-bearing virus. He unsettled people, of course, and his severe visage may not make him as appealing as Allen for a public event, but ALL the more reason to do it. You get my feeling.
Best thoughts--Carl H.
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A CONCURRING OPINION
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 14:33:06 EST
Subject: Re: ALLEN GINSBERG MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
Good to see progress and glad to see things working out. It will be hard to invoke the spirit of Ginsberg without invoking the spirit of the others, though it may not be necessary to do so in the title of the event. But either way, it sounds good. I've included a short announcement of it on my calender page at http://members.aol.com/kerouaczin/calender.html
Do you have a website for this specific event? I would list it on my links page.
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LIFTED FROM BILL GARGAN'S BEAT-L LIST (A Sort of Chat Room for Beat Generation Fans)
GINSBERG MEETS DYLAN
Date: Sat, 29 Nov 1997 18:14:28 -0500
Reply-To: "BEAT-L: Beat Generation List"
Sender: "BEAT-L: Beat Generation List"
From: "R. Bentz Kirby"
Subject: Ginsberg interview
I don't recall seeing this posted to the Beat-L before, but I thought this was a cool discussion of Dylan's impact on Allen by Allen. Notice that darned ole Charles Plymell was right in the middle of this thing. I got this off an old post to the Dylan list.
>Q: Can you tell us how you met Bob Dylan and what your earliest impressions of him were? > > AG: My earliest impressions of Dylan were, uh, on returning from India. . . My earliest impressions of Dylan were, on returning from India via San Francisco, a young poet, Charlie Plimel[?], took me aside at a party in Belinas[?] and played me some records from a new young singer, folk singer, and it was the Masters of War, I think, and "I'll Stand," uh, "I'll Know My Song Well Before I Start Singing," and "I'll Stand on the Sea Where All Can Reflect or Mountain Where All Can Reflect It." And I was really amazed. It seemed to me that the torch had been passed, sort of, from, uh, Kerouac or from the, uh, beat, uh, genius on to another generation completely, who had taken it, uh, and he'd taken it and made something completely original out of it, and that life was in good hands. I remember bursting into tears. Because the, uh, proclamation of confidence was so certain and, uh, the, uh, humility was apparent, and at the same time the confidence in, uh, his own voice or his own inspiration, which is, I think, some of the secret of genius which is, uh, like in Whitman: "I celebrate myself and sing myself. What I shall assume, you shall assume." That confidence of self-acceptance, or self-empowerment, the empowerment. Uh, so I heard just that first record, and I was pretty amazed by it. Then, uh, cause, you know, we had learned from earlier people. I had learned from William Carlos Williams and William Burroughs, who was much older, and, uh, every generation produces its own spontaneous genius, sort of. So it seemed to me that somebody had emerged with their own, out of cocoon, with their own life, with their own scepter, so to speak. Then, uh, I got to New York with Peter Orlovsky, and we were staying at the, it's, uh, above, upstairs from the Eighth Street Bookstore, which was at that time a big, interesting, intelligent bookstore, Uh, really admirable -for, for, for journalism it was a really well-researched and even piece at a time when, uh, the notion, the journalistic idea was beatniks, it was cockroaches, and, uh, dirty houses and uh, some idiot, uh, media idea ignoring the literature and ignoring the actual brilliance of the people like Kerouac or Burroughs or Gary Snyder or others. So in '59, Aronowitz had written a very good series. And he'd actually gone to the West Coast, interviewed Michael McClure, Neal Cassidy, uh, the poet Gary Snyder I think, or friends of Snyder, Snyder was in Japan. Maybe Philip Whalen he saw and uh, McClure turned him on to some grass which enriched his account of, uh, serialized account of the poets. So Aronowitz I had known for four or five years and Aronowitz brought Dylan to a welcome party. Peter and I had been around the world actually and spent a year and a half in India. And I'd spent some time in Japan in a Zen setting with Gary Snyder and then come back to a big poetry conference in Vancouver and then spent time in San Francisco, heard Dylan on the radio, on the phonograph and then got to New York, got a welcome home party and that was the night that Dylan had come from the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee banquet and had renounced any role as sort of a political prophet for them, and that is a left wing, uh, what, folk, uh, fighter for causes. I don't think he wanted to be limited to that view and that perspective. And so I remember coming up the stairs and meeting him and I was really interested, because I'd seen, heard his language. And he was kind of mysterious, but one of the first things he said is he had explained, uh, uh, he had not obeyed what their idea was and they were shocked and horrified. But he felt that he had to make his own statement and have his own independence rather than being a replica of, uh, folk song hero, conforming to their expectations as somebody in, responding to every civil liberties case, every case of discrimination, every strike, the traditional sing outs, folk music, left wing party line. And I thought it was pretty smart of him, though, he may have not had the skillful means to do it in which a way that encouraged them to do what they wanted to do
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THE JAN KEROUAC LAWSUIT
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 13:40:10 -0500
From: jo grant
Subject: Re: Nicosia hate! I think not.
I don't think Gerry Nicosia wastes time with "hate." That he has a great dislike for the Sampas "heirs," and to me this dislike is understandable.
A simple study of the "heirs'" treatment of Jan Kerouac will explain Gerry Nicosia's dislike.
Jan believed that Jack's mother's signature was forged on the will that gave Jack's belongings to Stella Sampas. Memere had always been able to spell her name correctly. On the will it was not spelled correctly. The witness to Memere's signature has admitted that he did not see her sign the will. John Sampas is going to great expense to keep this matter out of court in St. Pete, FL. He claims the can prove the signature is authentic, but doesn't want to go to court to do so. One might wonder why.
Jack Kerouac wanted his archives available for study. He specifically did not want any of the Sampas clan to have anything of his. One has only to read his last letter to get a clear picture of who he DIDN'T want his collection to go to.
List members can speculate all day long about what Jack Kerouac did, or didn't, want. His last letter speaks loud and clear.
The last thing Jan Kerouac wrote was an addition to her will. It was recorded and legal. She left her ex-husband (John Lash) the rights to her royalties even though he hadn't given her the time of day or provided her anything for a period of five years. But to insure that her literary archives were protected and that the law suits to reclaim her father's archives and place them in a library that would preserve them would go on, she named Gerry Nicosia as her literary executor.
Gerry gave her his word that he would not give up the fight to reclaim the Jack Kerouac collection and get it into a library.
Lash, with an undisclosed amount of money from John Sampas (Their lawyers have managed, successfully, to keep the amount out of the court records) is trying to get Gerry Nicosia removed as Jan's Literary Executor. As soon as he is removed the lawsuit that is scheduled be heard in St. Pete, FL, will end. Lash will then have whatever he gets from Sampas, he'll have the $50 to $75 thou a year from Jan's royalties (That he is betraying her for money should be noted) and Sampas will have the collection to play games with, to sell pieces of (and when he claims that he has never done this--sold individual items to private collectors--HE IS LYING AND IT CAN BE PROVED), to edit to satisfy his ego (See review of Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-1956 by Clark Coolidge, Voice Literary Supplement, April 1995 in which Coolidge wrote: "There are some problems with this edition...having to do with what Ann Charters chose to remove from these letters. There are, by my count, 171 deletions over 600 pages of text, and as these gaps mount up, I began to wish that Charters had given the reader some indication as to the nature of her pruning...she owes the reader such an explanation...[it] becomes even more troubling in light of rumors that the Sampas family has dictated considerable censorship of the letters prior to publication...the book as it stands betrays shoddy treatment of a man who believed in hiding nothing and whose statement, 'What a man most wishes to hide, revise, and unsay, is precisely what Literature is waiting and bleeding for.' graces the jacket copy of this very volume.")
If John Sampas shared, or even respected Jack's quote, he wouldn't have threatened me with a lawsuit for showing a copy of Jack's last letter on my web site last year. A simple gesture, on my part, to provide people with INFORMATION about Jack Kerouac. JK would have approved. Since he wrote that he didn't
As for a moratorium on any discussion of the Kerouac estate controversy I find it incredibly difficult to believe that any Kerouac reader, student, scholar, what-have-you, could even entertain such an idea.
The Sampas side of the controversy would have people believe that Jan's suit is nothing but a grab for money. Not so. It's Gerry Nicosia following through on a promise to Jack's daughter to never give up until her father's literary archives are in a library, safe and secure from people who are more interested in profit than they are in Jack and Jan Kerouac's wishes.
Nah. It's not that Gerry hates the Sampas'. It's that he's a recognized Kerouac scholar who: 1. believes JK is a national treasure whose work MUST be saved from the profiteers, 2. who sincerely cared for and respected Jan Kerouac, and 3. gave his word to a dying friend that he would continue her fight.
Does anyone think Gerry would go back on his word---go back on a promise made to a dear friend on her deathbed? If anyone does they do not know Gerry very well.
Anyone who doesn't want updates on how this matter is proceeding can so easily use the delete key.
"CLICK." It's as simple as that.
Just for the record, I can't include Jack's last letter without placing the Beat List at risk of a law suit from John Sampas, UNLESS he notifies me that he wold have no objection to the list reading Jack's last letter. He will not do so. BUT I can provide Jack's comments about who he DID NOT WANT TO END UP WITH HIS ARCHIVES.
On Oct. 23, 1969 Jack wrote to his nephew Paul Blake:
"I've turned over my entire estate, real, personal, and mixed, to Memere, and if she dies before me, it is then turned to you, and if I die thereafter, it all goes to you. The will is locked in a bank vault of the Citizens National Bank of St. Petersburg. I have a copy of the new will in the house just for reference. My St. Pete. attorney who did this for me is Fred Bryson. I just wanted to leave my "estate" (which is what it really is) to someone directly connected to the last remaining drop of my direct blood line, which is, me, sister Carolyn, your mom, and not to leave a dingblasted fucking goddam thing to my wife's one hundred Greek relatives. I also plan to divorce, or have her marriage to me, annulled...."
For the entire letter, and corrections that a Kerouac scholar recommended I make, the letter, for study and academic use only, can be seen at: http://www.bookzen.com/jk_lettr.html
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