Friday, August 03, 2018


Published by Reel Art Press
This is the real deal - a cache of unknown pictures by Burt Glinn [1925-2008], a top Magnum photographer which had remained untouched for 50 years - of the Beat scene on the East and West coast of  America in the period 1957-1960.

More than half the negatives are in colour  - the first ever colour photos of The Beats of Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg and his lover Peter Orlowsky.

Jack paddles around making faces, wearing a beret and a long raincoat, Allen and Peter sit on a bench in Washington Square with their publisher Barney Rossett of Grove Press, Corso poses on window ledges and, in one dramatic set of b&ws in a club, he is being restrained from getting into a fight. Ferlinghetti stares straight into the lens, can of beer in his hand, framed by the bookshelves of City Lights with Shig, the shop manager

But there is much more than the poets themselves. The first set entitled 'upper and lower bohemians 1957' shows an upscale party with the ub's chatting and surrounded by modern art followed by portraits of artists in their studio, ub's at exhibition galleries and great pictures of Merce Cunningham and his top dancer Anita Huffington. The stunner for me is de Kooning 's studio with Larry Rivers. Brilliant. Cut to a jazz club where ub's and lb's crossover.

Gregory Corso [detail]
'east coast beats 1959' is a wonderful selection of shots, beginnig with the entrance stairway to the Seven Arts Coffee Gallery which hosts night-reading poets from 2am every Friday.  We see Ted Joans reading at the Bizarre coffee shop in Greenwich Village, Leroi Jones with his baby, and other photogenic beats posing against the evening sky on New York balconies. Cut to a "Rent A Beatnik" party where the young, stoned and beautiful drink, and a jazz club called the Half Note followed by a show at the March Gallery and hipsters hanging out at the Cock-n-Bull.         

west coast beats 1960 follows similar tracks, mixing b&w and colour, travelling across the city from location to location, wild parties in lofts, cellars and clubs. Two jazzmen play chess against a startling yellow and orange curtain. Dancers get into the groove at the Fox and Hound, We see artist's apartments and studios, musicians jamming in a studio with an eccentric collection of instruments. Buddhist Alan Watts laughs in front of a giant amplifying horn.

Three essays open the book, beginning with 'burt glinn 1959'  by Sarah Stacke, a photojournalist who was enlisted by Glinn to help digitise his huge photo collection. She writes:
'Eudora Welty said that photographers  must "be sensitive to the speed not simply of the camera's shutter, but of the moment in time."  The social movements as well as the gestures and peculiarities of individuals to which  Burt paid attention, speak to this quality. Burt's images of the Beats, almost always made at night, arrange arms in motion, burning cigarettes, berets. typed pages and earnest conversations inside the frame. The compositions render the culture of the nonconformity and spontaneous expressionism embraced by the Beats.' 
Jack Kerouac and Barbara Ferrera [detail]
Next comes 'burt and the beats' by Michael Shulman who was working with Tony Nourmand, the publisher of this book, on a Glinn retrospective when they discovered this cache of colour shots.

Glinn by Shulmnan's account and others was an incredibly accomplished photographer who covered a wide range of reportage from Hollywood celebrities to Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. Shulman says that Glinn's core talent was 'his unerring way of getting inside the emotional truth of the situation'  You can see a lovely selection of Glinn's work on his own website:

Also included is an essay by Jack Kerouac originally written for Holiday magazine entitled 'and this is the beat nightlife of new york' - his own guide to the beat underworld of the time.

This excellent book, well-designed with nice-smelling paper, is a really valuable addition to The Generalist's Beat library and comes highly recommended. It's a window into an undocumented world. You can almost smell the atmosphere, hear the jazz and the bongoes. We're digging these Beats man!

The publishers Reel Art Press [RAP] are new to me. They're producing tasty and sylish visual treats so check them out here:



Published by W.W. Norton. 2015

This marvelous volume I found in Bow Windows bookshop in Lewes, my go-to-place for random discoveries.

'Writing Across The Landscape' is composed of extracts from Ferlinghetti's travel journals, 'the fruits of over five decades of travel.' from 1960-2010. What a remarkable man he is [See: 'Ferlinghetti Speaks Out at 99. His voice as vital as ever' (San Francisco Chronicle/ 21 March 2018)]

A very few extracts have been previously published but most were typed up from the handwritten journals Mr F had given to the Bancroft Library at the University of California and had never looked at them since. He collaborated with the editors on both selection and editing. The book includes many of his drawings.

The Editors Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson write: 'Together, these records of observations and experiences show that the poet's journeys around the world form one of the most crucial and rich sources of creative inspiration.'  

Interestingly, they claim 'though he is often identified with the writers of the Beat generation because he published them through City Lights, Lawrence has never considered himself a Beat. These notebooks testify to his connections to a wide international field of avant-garde literary ferment and poetry of dissent.'

It begins with the Normandy Invasion [he also saw Nagasaki in August 1945 after the bomb). In the 60s alone he went to Latin America, Cuba, France, North Africa, La Paz, Russia, Rome and numerous other destinations. He was in Paris in the summer of '68,

The book is a masterclas of both poetry and prose, imagination and observation, to be dipped into time and again. The book is fĂȘted
on the back with heartfelt puffs from, amongst others, Francis Ford Coppola and Patti Smith, who has this to say.
"Courageously beautiful, High spirited and sensual, Ferlinghetti's private jounal reads like an open letter to the reader. One can hear his distinctive voice. Our American poet and wanderer. As beloved as the land itself."



This new restored text is considered closest to Burroughs' original wishes. The edition also contains many appendices regarding the birth of the project and various alternative texts. This edition is the Grove Press paperback first published in 2001. The Editor's Notes begin:

'Naked Lunch evolved slowly and unpredictably over nine tumultuous years in the life of its author, William Seward Burroughs. The novel was not created according to a predetermined outline or plan, but accumulated through a decade of travel and turmoil on four continents and continually edited and reedited not only by its author but also by his close friends Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. It went through innumerable partial and "final" drafts, mostly in Tangier, Morocco, and took its final shape only when Maurice Girodias told Burroughs in June 1959 that he needed a finished text within two weeks, for publication by his English-language Olympia Press in Paris. Thus, by its very nature, Naked Lunch resists the idea of a fixed text, and our re-creation of the history of its composition and editing has required a careful review of many disparate typescripts in various archival collections, as well as the two first editions in 1959 (Olypia Press) and 1962 (Grove Press) - the texts of which are quite different.'


'The Beat Museum was founded by Jerry and Estelle Cimino in 2003, in Monterey, California. After meeting John Allen Cassady (son of Neal and Carolyn Cassady), John and Jerry developed a two-man show and took it on the road in an Airstream RV they dubbed the Beat Museum on Wheels (or the Beatmobile for short), sharing the story of the Beat Generation with young people from coast to coast. They arrived in North Beach in 2006, and a temporary Beat Museum opened in the Live Worms gallery on Grant Avenue. Following a brief move to The Cannery at Fisherman’s Wharf, we moved into our permanent home at 540 Broadway, across the street from City Lights Books.'


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