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(Copyright 1998 Al Aronowitz)


From: "todd fahey"
Subject: Don't Let the Fucks Get You Down (A.G. Rainout)
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 17:27:21 PST

Dear Al,

Being a part of the Allen Ginsberg Memorial Celebration was a thing I'll treasure forever. I've read a few of the rants aimed at you, &, as one among the never-more-than 50 souls in the Bandshell, I can't agree with the naysayers. The spirit among the few in attendance was sublime, with a feeling of rebelry and revelry that just doesn't happen in big commercial endeavors.

The rain couldn't be helped, of course, and of course, it was a bummer; but if anyone is to blame for the poor attendance, it's the scads of folks who were supposed to have shown up but didn't, and the media types who failed to check in for footage and interviews (there WERE some celebs there to be buttonholed), and especially the fickle patrons of the Arts, who only wanted to stay dry. . . You showed up an hour before closing, but so did Dr. James Ragan, Director of USC's Professional Writing Program and damned fine poet in his own right, who postponed a trip to Prague just to attend the event.

So, don't let the fucks get you down. A friend of mine from Louisiana, who came up w/ me at short notice, sed, after the gig ended, "This was the greatest day of my life!"

Wishing you all the best,

Todd Brendan Fahey
author, _Wisdom's Maw: The Acid ##

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Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 20:59:46 +0000
From: Marlon
Subject: literary renaissance


i have been checking out yr columns enoyed reading them will have to print them out i enjoy reading in bed but not with the computer i have seen a couple Bridges to Babylon gigs with The Rolling Stones and shit yes blew me away to i been listening to this band for 30 yrs. and fucking amazing on stage they are better than ever they are scheduled to play here in Reykjavik,Iceland and we are looking forward to the event.

Ron Whitehead, Birgitta Jonsdottir, and i commenced work in New York on organizing a week long poetry/music event in Reykjavik the year 2000. Ron will be here next month for further work on this event and gigz including Birgitta Jonsdottir, Frank Messina , Sneak Attack , GAK and myself.

In Every Disaster Lies The Seed Of Success.


Michael Dean Odin Pollock
The Literary Renaissance
North Atlantic Chapter
Reykjavik, Iceland ##

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Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 02:22:01 EDT
Subject: Re: COLUMN 37

In a message dated 10/19/98 8:26:50 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

I actually know and have worked with Allen Gershwin. He is a wonderful guy. He looks identical to his father George. unless George had some of Aronowitz genes, I find it unlikely Allen g is a son of anyone other than George. ##

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Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 11:31:26 -0700 (PDT)
From: "jack.saunders"
Subject: FYI

The sax man who played behind Jack Micheline for years was (is) named Bob Feldman.

Jack Saunders
P. O. Box 1392
Tucker, GA 30085 ##

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Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 01:17:43
Subject: you

Al Aronowitz:

I  must say that reading excerpts from your book (chapter one specifically) has kept me from doing my work in my studio this evening. My wife has walked past my office several times tonight and seen me at this computer, and I'm not sitting at the desk this late as a rule. I don't have a printer, so I've been reading it right on the screen, and the eyes have quite had it by now.

Question: can you tell me (or show me in one of your chapters) why, specifically, you are not able to get published, considering your importance to the music and culture of which you write about? I must say, it's just puzzling the hell outta me. I mean, I'm published and all, but you, I don't know. I don't understand.

(And for your information, I've seen your name for years and years now, but it was a link on the Bob Dylan Expectingrain web page ( that got me here.) ##

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Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 12:26:34 EDT
Subject: Re: COLUMN 36

Hi Black,

I've lost my job (editing a high tech magazine) due to unfavorable market conditions and corporate practices, so in about 2 weeks I will no longer be receiving email at this address. It has been a privilege to read your missives. I hope I'll be able to get back on your mailing list when I find a new ISP. Meanwhile, my best to you and keep up the good fight.

Ted Greenwald ##

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Date: Saturday, October 17, 1998 23:02:17
From: jbrice
To: Al

Dear Al,

I agree with you completely about (Grand Inquisitor) Kenneth Star. I don't understand why the democrats haven't gotten their shit together. I don't know if the democrats are capable of taking the reins of public sentiment. I just think the media are so dominated by corporate, and advertising interests, and thus the pundits in washington are the same way, that they have gotten the democrats buffaloed into thinking that the american people are against the President.

Im my own state of Iowa, we have had over eight terms of moderate republican governors, and this year a complete fascist (Jim Ross Lightfoot) is running as a republican, and the democrat is behind by thirty points. In an environment where money means everything, the democrats can't compete for advertising money. We need campaign finance reform! If we don't get it soon, I really fear for the future of my country. I believe the religious right and corporate america have formed a trust. It is called the Republican Party!

I am using your page as a link on my "Alternative News and Opinion Page." Hopefully the "Corporate Fascists" will never take over the internet!

Jennifer Brice ##

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Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 04:27:33 -0600
Subject: Thanks
From: (Cordley G Coit)

. . .About me i was black listed in the sixties, Sylvia Warren can tell you why. In the fifties I ran with Kay Johnson and Chester Anderson. I was around the Village when you were. Remember Luke and Ellen Faust they were big buds until Ellen ran off with Zimmermann who I thought was an embarrassment, when I'm wrong. . . Then went to work on Mad Ave made my loot and got out in 65 went to Europe and got clued. I'm inside the Morgan thing but outside because I'm looking for the truth. Since I have no money no one cares much about what I say or write.

I do know that Clear Broadcasting just bought Jay Corp. That means the Bush boys are making their run with S&L money they stole back when and hid in the M-1. The Christians are about to learn a lesson, remember what Pat Choate did to We the People? Bush will lead them up the path with all the money in world backing him. Got a bet going with Pete Boyles on how long he stays working in Denver unless he leaves the Bush Boys alone. We can all be unemployed together. It's who signs the marching orders not who yells them out, Bush is an errand boy, a very dangerous one. Be well. . .

Cordley Coit ##

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Subject: : FIRE
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998
To: Al Aronowitz

Rita Dove & Fred Viebahn
Dept. of English
219 Bryan Hall
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Phone (804) 924-6618
Fax (804) 924-1478
September 27, 1998

Dear Friends,

Please excuse this non-personal letter.

As some of you might have learned from press reports, on the evening of Labor Day at about 10:30 pm, lightning struck our house and set it on fire. The circumstances were (are still!) rather shocking (no pun intended). We were both at our computers and the rain and thunder had just begun when there was a deafening explosion in Fred's study, followed by Fred's scream, then total blackness. Fred had been thrown across the room in his desk chair and then fallen backwards; he was kind of surprised to find himself alive and apparently unhurt, except for loud ringing in his ears and a bruised tailbone. We found each other and went downstairs to search for candles/flashlights and to turn off the main fuse box, since we believed lightning had struck nearby (who imagines actually being struck by lightning!) and thought the computer had blown up. When we returned to Fred's room, the computer was running again on battery backup, and finally, still dazed, we noticed a V-shaped gash in the wall above the desk that went all the way through the ceiling into the attic---with smoke billowing out. On the way back downstairs to grab a fire extinguisher we heard something crackling in the hall. . .and looked up to see a rectangle of orange light rimming the trapdoor to the attic. At that point we realized the fire was beyond the range of a fire extinguisher; we raced down to the garage, where Rita called 911 from the cell phone (our regular phones weren't working) while Fred drove the cars down to the bottom of our driveway. The fire department responded within minutes, but since there are no hydrants in our neighborhood and our pond was inaccessible to the fire engines with high pressure pumps, water had to be brought in by an endless chain of tankers, which were filled up at Albemarle High School a mile up the road.

Over fifty firefighters battled the blaze for six hours. By shooting 50,000 gallons of water into the flames, they were able to save much of the exterior structure as well as keeping damage to the first floor's interior at bay until art works, photo albums, our video archive and even much of the furniture had been secured. When it was over, the attic was completely gone and most of the second floor was devastated. Fred, whose study burned out totally, lost most of his papers and manuscripts, many of his books (especially the first editions of his own works and those books and magazines in which he had published contributions, plus all reference books and the research materials for his novel-in-progress). While most of our private photos survived in the albums on the first floor, many "official" photos of Rita and all of Fred's negatives of Rita's publicity pictures over the past two decades were reduced to ash.

Fred's computer burned out and his backup Zip disks and backup tapes melted away, while Rita's computer and both our laptops sustained water damage; a data retrieval service is supposed to look into saving data from the hard drives, but as luck would have it, two shipments to their facility in Maryland got lost in UPS transfer and could only be tracked again yesterday, when they showed up at a UPS distribution center in California! Before the data retrieval people have had a chance to check the hard drives, there's no way of telling if the parts of Fred's novel he had been working on for the past two years have survived. (Earlier parts have been saved on a backup disk left at his mother's house in Germany in 1996.)

Contrary to press reports, large parts of Rita's literary and personal archive (especially drafts, old correspondence and press clippings) that we had been storing in the attic were either incinerated or badly damaged. For some reason most of the books in our upstairs hallway library did not catch fire and seem to have sustained relatively minor water damage, but we lost three valuable art works, many mementos, practically all our clothes, all upstairs furniture and all electronics on the second floor; what didn't burn fell victim to smoke and water. Both our bedroom and Aviva's room were gutted, and though Aviva's extensive Breyer Horse collection survived on the shelves behind the door to her room that had been open, most of her stuffed animals, dolls and piles of video movies were destroyed, as were the autographed pictures of her with celebrities that used to grace the wall. (Of course, she still had the stuff she had taken with her to Mary Baldwin College, where she is a sophomore this fall.)

When the dozens of exhausted firefighters began to pack up around five in the morning, Fred carried all the art works from the front porch and the lawn to safety in Rita's cabin back in the woods. (They've since been shipped to an art restoration company for cleaning and, in a few cases, restoration.) Shortly after 8 am, while securing more stuff from the first floor and the basement (where by this time water was gushing down through cracks and holes deliberately punched into the ceilings by firemen to relieve the house of the weight of the water), Fred saw fire flaring up again at a first floor outside wall, which it must have reached via a smoldering power line.

This time it took the firemen only a few minutes to put it out. . .but if Fred hadn't been there, the rest of the house might have gone up in flames.

Later that day we explained to the insurance adjuster that our top priority was to sift through the rubble on the second floor to see if any valuable manuscripts, mementos, etc. were buried there---and yet he ordered a demolition crew that came in the next day with a huge crane, ostensibly to "pop off the rest of the roof". Instead, the crew sawed off the remaining rafters and threw them down onto the second floor, causing further damage.

Anyway, after we had stopped the demolition (which not only delayed our salvaging efforts by a day, but made recovery far more difficult and time-consuming because so much rubble had been dumped in places where we suspected some valuable finds), we began sifting through the debris, inch by inch. With advice and help from the University of Virginia Library, we succeeded in retrieving some sixty boxes of partially burned and water-logged materials. To arrest further deterioration, they were first frozen and then shipped to a freeze-drying facility in New York. Time will tell what can actually be rescued.

Our neighborhood has been terrific in its support, both psychologically and materially. They clothed and fed us in the first days after the catastrophe, ran errands, even came to the house the evening of the unauthorized demolition, forming a human chain through the muck and the ashes to clear some of the debris and to transport half-burned boxes of papers and slides and other things downstairs before night fell and the lack of electric power stopped them. All things considered, however, we were somewhat lucky in all this mess.

No one got seriously hurt, and many of our things survived and are in storage. Although the house did not burn to the ground, most of the interior will have to be gutted before reconstruction can begin (estimated at a minimum of four to six months). Thanks to the University of Virginia Provost's office, we found a nice and spacious temporary home close to campus. We have not had time to "mourn", since so many things have to be replaced; we're constantly shopping for clothes, toiletries, computers, office equipment---at this rate and under such circumstances, it's more a burden than a pleasure. (A very minor and yet aggravating example: Fred, who due to allergies has worn certain brands of German underwear and 100% cotton socks all his life, was---quite literally---at a loss.

One request: Since our computer databases were lost (or are in UPS transit---(see above)---we have to rely on a hodgepodge of addresses found in Rita's university office. If you receive this letter via USPS and have an e-mail address, please send it to us at . If you receive this letter via e-mail, please e-mail back your postal address. Thanks!

More in our annual New Year's letter. (By the way---we'd appreciate photocopies of any past editions of Fred's annual letter---our copies burned, and the pertinent back-up disks were fried.) Also, after sifting through the remains of correspondence (which will take months, we guess), we might request copies from some of you of whatever correspondence with us you might still have.

Love and best wishes,

Rita & Fred

(and Aviva, who is continuing to concentrate on her academic pursuits) ## |

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Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 23:00:35 -0700 (PDT)
From: Gerald Nicosia
Subject: Re: Publishers Weekly article

Dear Al,

I don't know if you saw the enclosed Publishers Weekly article today. The only thing they left out is that Sampas also threatened. . .me. . . But this story has not really fully broken yet. Calvin Reid, an editor at Publisher's Weekly, knew of the. . . threat against me, but told me he chose not to print it so that the "background story" didn't overwhelm the story of Jan's books being reissued. >From Publisher's Weekly, September 28, 1998, p. 11

"PROBATE BLUES: REPRINTING JAN KEROUAC, AND THE LEGAL BATTLE WITH DAD'S ESTATE" by Calvin Reid This month, Thunder's Mouth Press is reprinting two autobiographical novels by the late Jan Kerouac, the only child of beat literary avatar Jack Kerouac. In 1999 Thunder's Mouth expects to publish Parrot Fever, Jan's final novel, left unfinished when she died in 1996. It will be reconstructed from the manuscript and notes she left. Originally published in he 1980's, the novels Baby Driver and Train Song were praised by reviewers. Like her father's books, Jan Kerouac's novels depict the poverty, drugs and peripatetic lifestyle of their author. Yet what should be a literary event will likely become yet another episode in a protracted, bitterly contested dispute (being fought in the courts as well as via the Internet) over the alleged conduct of the estate; the authenticity of Jack's will; and a related court battle over Jan's will. All of this conflict has left Kerouac scholars, contemporaries and fans polarized, confused and frustrated. The current battle is between John Sampas---the brother of Jack Kerouac's last wife, Stella Sampas, and the executor of the Jack Kerouac estate and archive---and Gerald Nicosia, author of Memory Babe, a generally praised biography of Jack published in 1978, and the literary executor of Jan's estate. While the debate is complex, the gist of it is as follows. Before her death in 1996, Jan Kerouac and Nicosia charged the estate of Jack Kerouac with mismanagement, claiming it sold off parts of the collection, withheld Jan's royalties and arbitrarily restricted access to scholars. Jan sued the estate in 1994, claiming the signatures on the 1973 will, which bequeathed the estate to the Sampas family, were forged. In a telephone conversation with PW, John Sampas vigorously denied all these charges. Now the reprinting of Jan's two novels has spurred a new conflict. The books incorporate supplementary materials--including interfiews with Jan and a publisher's note that repeats the charges about the Sampas family. Neil Ortenberg, publisher of Thunder's Mouth Press, told PW that, after publication, Sampas called his office and made a "physical, thuglike threat," against a Thunder's Mouth employee. Sampas stridenly denies this, but said he did threaten Ortenberg with a lawsuit, claming that the supplementary material was "slanderous." Ortenberg claims to be neutral in the dispute: "Rightly or wrongly, Jan decided to protect her father's estate. We tried to make it clear that we were not taking sides. We didn't want the feud to dwarf her books." Sampas said he is "angry at all this vilification. The will was not forged. For years we got along fine with Jan." He admits to selling items from the archive ("some letters, a drawing or two. We needed money to start up the estate"). He blames the estate's agent, Sterling Lord Literistic, for any royalty accounting mistakes and emphasized that they have been corrected. He also told PW he expects that the archive will eventually end up in a "public institution. I would rather it went to the New York Public Library." He was quick to point out that the estate has overseen the publication of seven Kerouac books since 1991 and that historian Douglas Brinkley has been given "complete access and total independence" to write a Kerouac biography scheduled for 2001 from Penguin. The legal conflict plods on through the courts. While Nicosia is Jan's literary executor, she named her former husband, John Lash, as her general executor, and Lash has moved to drop the lawsuit challenging the will. In a recent ruling, the probate court of New Mexico ruled against Nicosia, limiting his powers and striking down his standing to continue the suit. Undaunted, Nicosia will appeal the ruling---which he claims may unduly limit the powers of all literary executors---to the New Mexico State Supreme Court. Nicosia, who is currently working on a much-delayed book about Vietnam veterans for Henry Holt, told PW he is carrying out his friend's last wishes: "I don't want to betray Jan. I'll carry [the suit] on as long as I can." ##

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