Charley may be the most inside outsider around. It seems there’s no cultural/artistic/what-have-you outsider he hasn’t known at some point in his long life — he recently turned 80 — from Neal Cassady to William Burroughs and Herbert Huncke, from Ray Bremser and Peter Orlovsky to Robert Peters, from Bob Branaman and Bruce Conner to S. Clay Wilson, from Gerard Malanga to Aram Saroyan, from Paul Bley to Thurston Moore. And that’s leaving out dozens of other writers and artists he has rubbed shoulders with. Furthermore, Charley is always full of outsider projects or the subject of outsider projects.
Recently, the outsider German publisher Peter Engstler sent me a beautifully produced bilingual pamphlet of Charley’s “Planet Chernobyl.” The poem shows the strong influence of Ginsberg, despite Charley’s case against the man. It also quotes from “Howl.” And while it echoes other outsider writers more strongly, like Burroughs and Claude Pélieu, it seems to me most of all a latter-day coda to the outsider poem that made Ginsberg famous.
Meanwhile, another project, Charley’s “Cat Man Do,” is soon to be published. It will have a cover by another outsider artist, the late Mary Beach, who happens to have been Charley’s mother-in-law. I’m told the text may also be produced as an opera. Have a look:
Plymell’s text follows.
“In fact, biology is chaos. Biological systems are the product not of logic but of evolution, an inelegant process. Life does not choose the logically best design to meet a new situation. It adapts what already exists.”
— John M. Barry, The Great Influenza
The morning shows, the grace of strays, the back streets and alleys of the stars, black mama’s boo, the old days, a different handshake, the dying and decay, a ray in frightful sunny day, an error in the equation, a fabric fray, demons in the horns, a lot of keys, moon full of water, cool rule of the old school, time to get acquainted with those in dreams like the blind feeling their way to beauty, orphans in alleyways, pre-dawn call of birds, percussion in the slums, terrible sounds of industry awake, noise is poverty, potato head viroids base pairing with other DNA radicals in mountains of garbage, little crime cells unaware of the loss of society, governments of infectious diseases, first murder of the day, road kill and jet streams dying in viral sky of superstars and sports heroes for causes of cancer become the cause itself.
“When all the world recognizes beauty as beauty, this in itself is ugliness.” — Lao Tzu
Wake up you wanna-be artists, poets, impotent academics to Illuminate the hopeless souls if only brief as a firefly, dead fish eyes, fools on TV all looking at me, derivative images, holy hosts of Hollywood, infestation of bacteria in primordial slime, cannot shake its presence as if it were an equal piece of the puzzle or lo! The puzzle itself, what distinguishes life from a bacterium in the universe of 99% chance (luck) and 1% intelligence.
LIFE’S THREE DOMAINS
(for politicians only)
The Religion of the Holy Eukaryote: Organisms resembling humans whose cells have a nucleus command and control.
The Religion of the Archaea: An ancient line of microbes without nuclei or suitcases that may make up as much as a third of all life on earth.
The Religion of the New Age Bacteria: The single celled organisms with origins in primordial slime that may or may not possess a nucleus bomb.
TO ARMS! TO ARMS!
Where’s the Churchills, where’s the Bushes in this archive of agony, shards of life’s different branches, an array of pathetic individuals hiding between life and death in the mountains caught and identified by crack detectives. It’s rehearsal time for the world where the end is incubating and Jimmy stole your Hyundai.
— Charles Plymell