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.

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