Sunday, June 30, 2019


THE GENERALIST has found over the years that books arrive in clusters, either by chance or by following a chain of connections. These titles all seem important in their own way, mirroring the zeitgeist of our times.

Micah White's 'the end of protest' is about new beginnings. MW was the co-creator of the #occupy meme. Hatched in Canada in the offices of 'Adbusters' magazine, the idea spread to 100 countries.
His book is partly a thought-provoking history of protest and revolutions examining their philosophies and forms of action and partly a set of new ideas on how we should run such matters in future. He looks back on Occupy Wall Street as a "constructive failure", something to learn from. He urges us not to use tactics that have already been discredited - like mass marches.  
Published in 2016, he might need to reassess this view in the light of Extinction Rebellion, whose carefully staged theatrical protests in London successfully catapulted concern about climate change into the mainstream media and conventional politics.

On May 1st, the UK became the first country to officially approve a motion to declare an environment and climate emergency. The BBC reported:
 'This proposal, demonstrates the will of the Commons on the issue but does not legally compel the government to act, [It] was approved without a vote....Dozens of towns and cities across the UK have already declared "a climate emergency".There is no single definition of what that means but many local areas say they want to be carbon-neutral by 2030.'

Mica White was one of the speakers at an OECD conference in Paris this June which was also attended by another speaker Alev Scott who wrote a diary piece for the Financial Times. The theme of the conference was Emotion which, Scott writes, 'is fuelling global politics now more than ever.' 

He discussed with others  'the long-term strategy of the Extinction Rebellion organisers, whose slogan “respectful disruption” signals their ambition not to overstretch the patience of the public.

'Do they represent a new era of canny protesters? Are they leading the way not just for protest movements but for future political parties with their stated agenda of “breaking down hierarchies of power”? The conversation felt immediate and far-fetched all at once.'

You can find out a helluva lot more about Mica White on his website

Extinction Rebellion was established in the United Kingdom in May 2018 with about one hundred academics signing a call to action in support in October 2018 and launched at the end of October by Roger Hallam, Gail Bradbrook, Simon Bramwell, and other activists from the campaign group Rising Up!  See the main website here:


Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals is a 1971 book by community activist and writer Saul D. Alinsky about how to successfully run a movement for change. It was the last book that Alinsky wrote and was published shortly before his death in 1972. His goal for the Rules for Radicals was to create a guide for future community organizers, to use in uniting low-income communities, or "Have-Nots", in order for them to gain social, political, legal, and economic power.Within it, Alinsky compiled the lessons he had learned throughout his experiences of community organizing from 1939–1971 and targeted these lessons at the current, new generation of radicals. [Source: Wikipedia]

Published in 2018, 'Resist' is a punchy primer for would-be-activists. Its author Michael Segalov claims that we're living in an Age of Defiance, a time when taking action has never felt so necessary. It's about turning your ideas into actions - targeting those in power, getting press and social media attention, understanding your legal rights. There's also many activist stories to inspire.

What makes the book zing is the red and black graphic design by Oliver Stafford, the Art Director at Huck magazine


Two absolute gems for anyone interested in Beat Culture. The great poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner of the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, has written a remarkable autobiography at the age of 100. Its a triumph. The first part is the detailed story of his extraordinary real life childhood. He then swings into a huge poetic river of consciousness that roams and rambles and inspires, as if he was channeling Kerouac's monstrous feat of typing 'On The Road, on one log scroll of paper, while sitting in the john on benzedrine. The sweep and majesty of his mind will set your brain whirling. This is seriously deep food for thought and elightenment.

This relatively rare book, originally published in 1959 by Julius Messner in New York and republished by Martino Publishing in 2009, The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton is a remarkable portrait of the beat scene in Venice Los Angeles in the 1950s. In the preface he writes: 'In the case of the holy barbarians it is not an enemy invasion threatening the gate, it is "a change felt in the rhythm of events". Lipton and the writer Kenneth Rexroth met in Chicago in the late 1920s and they, he says, 'were as beat as any of today's generation...We have had to wait for the world to catch up with us, to reach a turn, a crisis. What that crisis is and why the present generatioin is reacting to it the way it does is the theme of this book.'

'Newer than the North Beach, San Francisco scene or the Greenwich Village scene, Venice has afforded me an opportunity to watch the formation of a community of dissaffilliates from its inception.... It is a deep-going change, a revolution under the ribs.'

This is an intimate picture of a lost world, cool as shit daddyo, stuffed with poets, artists, jazz musicians and pot. Here's a little sniff of the book's general vibe. Lipton brings it to life brilliantly.

The Joint is Jumpin' 
'By the time Chuck Bennison arrived, red-eyed after an all night session at bassist Phil Trattman's pad exploring "other realities" with the help of pot and jazz rhythms, a poetry reading was under way. Angel Dan Davies was holding forth with his latest jazz-inspired "open line," free form pieces, Nettie was in the kitchen again preparing a buffet supper, and the chairs, divans, floor — every square inch of sitting, lounging, squatting and sprawling space in the house — were full up. Beer cans, lemonade glasses, wine glasses, ash trays, sketch pads and notebooks made for precarious footing. The doorbell kept sounding every few minutes as the party got really swinging, for it had gotten around that Les Morgan, the popular Negro trumpet man, might fall in sometime during the evening and maybe bring along a couple of men from his quintet for a jam session of poetry and jazz. I had talked to Lester early in the week and he had eyes to make the scene, but you never could tell about Les and his boys; they didn't know quite what to make of this poetry and jazz thing and besides, they might get hung up at somebody's pad and not show up till around midnight, if at all.' 


 I was tipped off to the Lipton book by this other gem 'Dancin' In The Streets', [Charles H. Kerr. 2005] a fantastic history of two mimeographed magazines of the 1960s - The Rebel Worker' edited by Franklin Rosemont in Chicago and 'Heatwave' edited by Charles Radcliffe in the UK. These guys were far left and far out, as interested in comics as they were anarchism. They absorbed surrealism, followed the activities of he Situationists and the Provos and played a big role in revitalising the International Workers of the World (IWW) known affectionately as the Wobblies. Here are two extracts from Rosemont's brilliantly detailed account:

[Generalist Archive]
'It was the Beats, however, who gave us—my high-school friends and me—our first glimmer of poetry as a living, breathing, here-and-now activity. Serious students of the work of Kerouac and his comrades—Gregory Corso, Bob Kaufman, Diane di Prima, Gary Snyder and others—we went on to read the work of authors they admired: Rimbaud, for example, and Baudelaire, and D. T. Suzuki's writings on Zen. Such reading was actively discouraged by our so-called teachers, but we couldn't have cared less. How excited I was when Okakura Kakuzo's Book of Tea (cited in The Dharma Bums) arrived in the mail! For months afterward several of us would get together at odd moments and sit around a circle in the full-lotus position in our own version of the tea ceremony. The spirit of the thing was surely closer to the Marx Brothers than to Buddhism, but that didn't bother us. Breaking out of the repressive machinery of suburbia wasn't easy, and we tried to make use of anything that came our way.
'On the first of these adventures, I lived for several weeks in San Francisco's North Beach. Those who had arrived there a year or two earlier assured me that the "scene" in 1960 was in an advanced state of disintegration. For me, however, and for others my age who had made their way there from points all over the map, North Beach was so much livelier than anything we had known before that we found it hard to imagine how it could have been better. 
The neighborhood was hit hard by the massive publicity the Beat Generation was receiving—almost all of it hostile, some apoplectically so, like Alfred Zugsmith's ugly movie, The Beat Generation, which fostered the ludicrous misapprehension that the Beats were dangerous criminals. Ironically, this disinformation campaign brought square tourists by the thousands, especially on weekends, as well as "hippies," a term then used by Beats to designate the uncreative camp-followers who parasitically attached themselves to the Beat scene. 
Even worse, anti-Beat propaganda gave the police a pretext to escalate their war on all nonconformists. Police persecution, much of it aimed at interracial couples or groups, was an everyday fact of life in North Beach. I spent a large part of every day at two of the main Beat hangouts of those days: the Co-Existence Bagel Shop, a bar/deli at the corner of Grant Avenue and Green Street, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore a few blocks away, where I was able to relax in an armchair and read hundreds of poems as well as every book they had on surrealism and Zen. 
My San Francisco sojourn retains a special luster in my memory as one of those rare experiences that are truly worthy of one's child-hood dreams. My first sight of the Giant Redwoods, a couple of days climbing in the Sierras, hearing Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane live for the first time: How can one measure the impact of such priv-ileged moments? Intersecting with all the rest was a strong ancestral dimension, for my father's family were San Francisco pioneers...,  
It was a season of lucky breaks; small incidents had a way of adding up to something grand. With two friends—bass-player John R. White and a black street-philosopher from New York, known only as Ike—I went to Monterrey for the Jazz Festival. By mid-afternoon half the population of North Beach was there. John, Ike and I took seats before the tickets went on sale, so we enjoyed the whole program for free. (None of us had the price of admission in any case.) The music that night had all the magic of dreams; I hear its golden echoes to this day. It was there that I first heard Ornette Coleman live. After listening to his rip-roaring oracular sounds we wandered off in the darkness dizzy with joy. 
Brightest of all in my memory of that period is the unparalleled experience of community it provided. Life in North Beach was the closest thing to marvelous anarchy it has ever been my pleasure to enjoy. Despite battles with landlords, harassment by tourists, and mounting police terror, the Beats and their allies—old-time hoboes, jazz musi-cians, oyster pirates, prostitutes, drug-addicts, winos, homosexuals, bums and other outcasts—maintained a vital community based on mutual aid, and in which being different was an asset rather than a liability.'

Charlie Radcliffe produced his own mag Heatwave and wrote for the Rebel Worker. His own two-volume set of memoirs are epic in proportions, a masterpiece of memory, bringing much needed alternative views of the history of youth culture from the 50s onwards: the politics, the music, the drugs, the Peace Movement, the Situationists, LSD. The extraordinary amount of detail in these two volumes is awesome, informative and totally entertaining.

On his website, the works are trailered as follows:
Arguably one of the quintessential ‘60s figures Charles Radcliffe sat down with the anti-bomb Committee of 100, edited one of the most influential revolutionary magazines, Heatwave, joined and resigned from the Situationst International, was a hashish dealer, edited an underground magazine, Friends, became an international drug smuggler and served a long prison sentence. A lifelong enthusiasm for blues and friendships with Murray Bookchin, Chris Gray, Eric Clapton, Franklin and Penelope Rosemont are also dealt with in this stunning autobiography.
The book versions are currently out of print but are available in a Kindle edition here. Described on this site as follows:
In his seminal socio history of Punk, “England’s Dreaming”, Jon Savage makes the bald assertion that “Charles Radcliffe laid the foundation for the next twenty years of sub-cultural theory”, referring in particular to his 1966 piece “the Seeds of Social Destruction’ that appeared in the first of two issues of Radcliffe’s co authored, insurrectionary street-zine, ‘Heatwave’ 
Teddy Boys, Ton Up Kids, Mods and Rockers, Beats, Ban the Bombers,The Ravers ( jazz heads) : Radcliffe argued that the bank holiday bust ups, the demos, the riots, the sex drugs n rock n’ roll, these were all part of a “youth revolt… (that ) has left a permanent mark on this society, has challenged assumptions and status, and been prepared to vomit its’ disgust in the streets. The youth revolt has not always been comfortable, valid, to the point or helpful. It has however made its first stumbling political gestures with an immediacy that revolutionaries should not deny, but envy.”
Radcliffe joined the International Situationists within the year, alongside (English founder ) Chris Gray, but by the time 1968 had ended, and youthful revolt had fed into wide pockets of political turmoil globally, Radcliffe had started to drift towards other poles of late 60s’s counterculture. He ended the 60’s in long hair and loon pants, banged up in a Belgian prison on hash smuggling charges.
This epic ( 900 + pages) book follows Radcliffes’ trials and tribulations from public school beginnings, into the 60’s underground and the Mr Nice style large scale hash smuggling years (his friend, Howard Marks, pops up throughout) , on to prison, divorce, remarriage and beyond. It offers up important first hand perspectives on 60’s / 70’s counterculture, and an intimate portrait of a man who seemed to face the slings and arrows that fortune threw at him with a never ending supply of equanimity. And high grade hash.

Thursday, June 20, 2019


THE GENERALIST  was woken this morning by a radio programme on Buckminster Fuller, the visionary thinker who invented the geodesic dome amongst many other visionary things and spent his life travelling the world and talking (at great length) to people about his ideas of Spaceship Earth and how we should be developing ideas and technology that were less harmful to the planet.

A true pioneer and generalist thinker, he inspired millions of people to think differently about creativity and what is possible.

Was fortunate enough to go and see him talk at the American Embassy in London (I think) in the 1970s. It was an extraordinary experuience even if I didn't quite understand a lot of what he was saying. I would be in my early 20s.

Here's links to a couple of radio programmes and a whole lot more.

An Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth                                 Radio 4 Extra: The writer Tom Dyckhoff looks at the life and work of eccentric polymath Richard Buckminster Fuller. From March 2013.

Great Lives: Buckminster Fuller  
Radio 4: John Lloyd selects the maverick American architect, Richard Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome, as his choice of a great life. Matthew Parris hosts, joined by futurist and business strategist, Hardin Tibbs, as they debate the charge that if Buckminster Fuller - who had a molecule named after him, for its resemblance to his geodesic domes - really was the Twentieth Century's answer to Leonardo da Vinci, then why is he so little known about today? A man, John Lloyd argues, who preached environmentalism before the term was coined, so in advance of his times, but yet whose time has come today.

'Bucky' was well know for his quotes and aphorisms. Here's a few of my favourites:
 Integrity is the essence of everything successful. 

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete

Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren't any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn't be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life's challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person

We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.


Hailed as "one of the greatest minds of our times," R. Buckminster Fuller was renowned for his comprehensive perspective on the world's problems. For more than five decades, he developed pioneering solutions that reflected his commitment to the potential of innovative design to create technology that does "more with less" and thereby improves human lives

This biographical sketch is a great place to start exploring this great man's life.

HEY SILICON VALLEY—BUCKMINSTER FULLER HAS A LOT TO TEACH YOU              Sarah Fallon /Wired magazine/ 29th March 2016

Eight of Buckminster Fuller's most forward-thinking ideas   Eleanor Gibson | 27 August 2018 De

After reading the manuscript for Bucky's first book in 1936, Albert Einstein told him, "Young man, you amaze me! I cannot conceive anything I have ever done as having the slightest practical application, … but you appear to have found practical applications for it (Einstein’s theories)."

Bucky 'saved and archived every possible aspect of his life, creating his Chronofile and making his life the most documented of any “ordinary, average” (not a public official) person in the history of humankind.Although that experiment has yet to be fully examined, the success of Bucky's life is indisputable. After discovering the natural underlying principles that govern all Universe, Bucky applied them to every aspect of his work where he: 

Was granted 25 U.S. patents.
Wrote 28 published books and thousands of articles.
Received 47 honorary doctorates.
Was presented with hundreds of major awards.
Circled the globe 57 times working on projects and lecturing.
Presented an average of 100 "thinking out loud" sessions per year (often labeled lectures, they would range from two to six or more hours in length), even when he was in his eighties.

Bucky’s campaign on behalf of the success of all humans and life on Spaceship Earth was the focus of the last phase of his life from 1976 until his death on July 1, 1983. During this period, he was continually traveling, making presentations, writing and sharing as much of what he had learned as possible.  It was, in fact, a last ditch effort to make certain that his life was complete and that the had given everything possible in support of his mission to create “a world that works for everyone.”

Monday, June 17, 2019


 THE GENERALIST has written extensively on Bob Dylan, a mercurial figure whose global influence continues to spread and deepen.                                                                                                                                       This remarkable new film om Netflix of the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour in the run-up to the US Bicentennial draws the performances and other footage from Dylan's 4-hour 'Renaldo and Clara' movie that died at the box office and is currently unavailable.                                                                                                                                                      Dylan is at his beautiful best. He sings with an intensity that matches the power of his wonderful songs, the words of which seem eerily contemporary. Now 78, Dylan appears briefly with wry comments on this long ago circus-tour initially of small venues that involved Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Sam Shepard and many others.                                                                                                                           Having been genuinely stunned by this powerful film I then set out to read the back story of the making of this movie. What one discovers is that many of the episodes and characters in the film are actually made up. The clue is right at the beginning with a clip from an early silent film of an illusionist. Dylan invented his own persona and has spent his entire life wearing a variety of masks and identities. In the age of Trump and fake news this also seems highly contemporary.

There are no spoilers in this post. Enjoy the film before reading these excellent features in which all is revealed. Each writer has a slightly different take on these sleights of hand employed by Dylan and Scorsese one presumes. Knowing the truth does not in any way affect the wonderment of the film but adds other levels to what is moving and profound experience.

See Previous Posts: Type Bob Dylan into search box on top left of this site.

The Chaotic Magic of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue                              by David Remnick/ The New Yorker/ June 10, 2019

by Richard Brody/The New Yorker/ June 14, 2019

A Guide to What’s Fake in ‘Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story’
By Andy Greene / Rolling Stone / June 12th, 2019

Why Rolling Thunder Revue is a Terrible Documentary But A Great Bob Dylan Film

Review on Aquarium Drunkard/14th June 2019

Monumental 14CD Box Set Includes 5 Complete Bob Dylan Sets From Rolling Thunder Revue Concerts Spanning October-December First Leg, Rehearsal Performances, Rarities And More