Everyone Is Thinking About the Cops

Bad Cop [McFadden]

Aw gee! David Brooks says "not enough attention is being paid to the emotional and psychological challenges of being a cop." Such fragile flowers they are. I recall that William Burroughs gave it some thought back in 1968 when Flower Power was in bloom: “The people in power will not disappear voluntarily, giving flowers to the cops just isn't going to work. This thinking is fostered by the establishment; they like nothing better than love and nonviolence. The only way I like to see cops given flowers is in a flower pot from a high window." … [Read more...]

Dear Cannibals, Have a Sweet Thanksgiving

Our delicious Thanksgiving team of William S. Burroughs and Norman O. Mustill has been a happy pairing. It still is. But the Straight Up staff of thousands wanted to add a sweetener, something like cranberry sauce, to this year's celebration of gratitude. Here 'tiz: Words by Heathcote Williams, narration and montage by Alan Cox. … [Read more...]

‘Anatomy of Violence,’ a Prophetic Blast from the Past

An article in the Washington Post declares that the riots in Ferguson have been "the most significant explosions of racial frustration since the election of the nation’s first black president, and so Ferguson forced the country out of the fantasy that America had entered a 'post-racial' era." I'm not sure who really entertained that fantasy outside of the politicians and other public figures who needed to promote it and the pundits who were willing to go along with it. But Ferguson brought to mind this prophetic blast from the past -- a 1967 … [Read more...]

Once Upon a Time, Ginsberg Kept City Lights Humming

Allen Ginsberg in Boulder, Colorado [Photo by Jan Herman, 1980].

I've added a site to the blogroll, calling it "All Things Allen Ginsberg" instead of its official web address allenginsberg.org. I should have added it long ago. Bad housekeeping. The site is a goldmine of information, literary and otherwise, not just about Ginsberg, which is its main focus of course, but also about the Beat Generation. This morning the site is using a photo I took in 1980 as the lead-in for its daily blog: I've written elsewhere that one day while sitting at my desk at City Lights in the little office I shared with … [Read more...]

Monday Morning Quiz: Who Said That?

"Every once in a while, it's nice to be wrong about something." + Alan Dershowitz + Henry Kissinger + Dick Cheney + V.S. Naipaul + God + Click for the answer. But you get points for guessing it was The Albanian Idol of the BananaRepublic. … [Read more...]

More News from Paris: Huge Bookfair Opens Today

Offprint Paris (2014)

Offprint Paris at the Beaux-arts de Paris showcases publishers of art, photography, design, and experimental music labels. The 2014 edition features more than 130 publishers from nearly two dozen countries, an exhibition ("Disarming Design from Palestine"), and a variety of public discussions and signings. Special guests include Paul Soulellis (Library of the Printed Web), Mathieu Cénac (Jean Boîte Éditions), David Desrimais (Jean Boîte Éditions), and Tarek Issaoui (Rrose Editions), and art historian Mehdi Brit discussing his recent book … [Read more...]

The Reviews Are In: How Many Tomatoes for ‘Algren’?

Nelson Algren (photo illustration from 'Algren')

I took a survey of viewers who saw "Algren," the new documentary that recently had its world premiere at the Chicago International Film Festival. Here's what they said: Reviewer #1: Really interesting and fast-paced. It gives me a great sense of the guy without being pious. I’m unsure about the kitschy style. The fast edits and fake newsreels and animations keep things lively -- but it’s tough to think they will age well. Maybe that’s not the point, though. Maybe the point is to repackage Algren for today and let it be the books that age … [Read more...]

Islamic Peace Warrior: Badshah Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Abdul Badshah Ghaffar Khan

Two years ago almost to the day I posted three parts of a six-part investigative poem, "Game of Drones: The Lord of the Drones and the White House Fly," by Heathcote Williams. The fifth part, which I didn't post, begins by declaring that "the spirit of Badsha Khan, the nonviolent soldier of Islam, still guides many Pashtuns." You don't usually hear about this "frontier Ghandi," a Pashtun Muslim who "preached nonviolence / To a violent culture," as Williams puts it in a new investigative poem. The man stood "six foot five inches tall, / … [Read more...]

Desktopfun: Boo-hooray’s Burroughs Cut/Up Show

desktop fun (burroughs boo-hooray-VDRSVP-triple-combo)

Boo-Hooray, in collaboration with Emory University, is presenting a William S. Burroughs centenary exhibition dedicated to the Cut-Up technique. On view will be hand-edited typescript drafts from the Nova Trilogy, rarely seen publications like the mimeographed newsletter The Burrough and the Sigma Portfolio, alongside correspondence with Brion Gysin, vinyl releases, as well as the original cut-up paper components that went on form his novels. The Cut-Ups began in October of 1959, when Brion Gysin sliced through a pile of newspapers with … [Read more...]

Long-Awaited ‘Algren’ Bows at Chicago Film Festival

'ALGREN' a documentary by Michael Caplan

Is this Nelson Algren's moment? If it is, I don't think he'd give a damn -- not personally -- considering he's gone and how long ago that was. I also don't think he'd appreciate what has become a cliché of the Algren myth -- the forgotten writer. Sure, he's forgotten. Most writers are. And of those who are remembered, many are less worthy than Algren. But let's not forget that in his time he had moments of glory that even the worthiest writers may never have. Maybe the cliché will be retired at least for a little while with the premiere of … [Read more...]

Long-Awaited ‘Algren’ Documentary to Open in Chicago

'ALGREN' a documentary by Michael Caplan

Is this Nelson Algren's moment? If it is, I don't think he'd give a damn -- not personally -- considering he's gone and how long ago that was. I also don't think he'd appreciate what has become a cliché of the Algren myth -- the forgotten writer. Sure, he's forgotten. Most writers are. And of those who are remembered, many are less worthy than Algren. But let's not forget that in his time he had moments of glory that even the worthiest writers may never have. Maybe the cliché will be retired at least for a little while with the premiere of … [Read more...]

Sanders: ‘Book of Glyphs’ = ‘Smile-Book of Grace-Joy’

'A Book of Glyphs' by Edward Sanders [Granary Books, 2014]

Granary Books has just published a facsimile edition of Ed Sanders’ first book-length work of glyphs, which he created in Florence, Italy, in 2008, using colored pencils and a small sketchbook. The publisher notes: Though each piece stands on its own, collectively the 72 glyphs convey, with characteristic humility and humor, many of the themes Sanders has explored over his long and diverse career, including history, myth, activism and pacifism. The glyph — “a drawing that is charged with literary, emotional, historical or mythic and poetic … [Read more...]

Did Frank O’Hara Write ‘Captain Bada’? I Thought So

Captain Bada by Frank O'Hara [The San Francisco EARTHQUAKE No. 2, page 6]

I see there's a 50th anniversary edition of Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems out in hardcover from City Lights Books. It reminds me of a question I've had for years about a poem of O'Hara's that I've never had answered. Back in 1967, the year after O'Hara died, the New York poet Jim Brodey came knocking on my door in San Francisco and gave me a poem of O'Hara's -- "Captain Bada" -- for a little mag I was editing. Brodey said it had never been published. I must've asked him how he happened to have the manuscript, but maybe I didn't because I was … [Read more...]

Cold Turkey Press Publishes Portrait of Nelson Algren

TICKET TO NEW JERSEY: A Portrait of Nelson Algren [Cold Turkey Press, 2014]

This is a byte of self promotion. A byte? Haw. From the jacket blurb: Who could resist a study of a writer that begins, “if his writing had taken a flying fuck into a deep canyon, it was always balls-to-the-wall”? Jan Herman has borrowed the ghost of Algren’s golden arm with which to write this riveting, gonzo mini-biography of the man Hemingway called “the best novelist in America after William Faulkner.” Algren was being translated by Jean-Paul Sartre while he was sleeping with Sartre's wife and he preferred to spend time in boxing gyms … [Read more...]

Touring ‘Poetry Army’ Charts History of Radical Verse

A Poster for 'The Poetry Army' Tour in the U.K.

A posting by the Stop the War Coalition: From The Peasants’ Revolt to recent events at Tahrir Square, this incendiary performance celebrates radical verse in all its glory down through the centuries. The longstanding collaboration between poet Heathcote Williams and performer Roy Hutchins, encompassing such hits as Whale Nation and Autogeddon, continues as Hutchins combines forces with local actors, poets, and musicians to give voice to a host of radical writers, such as Shakespeare, Shelley, Ginsberg, Blake and Pussy Riot. Here's a … [Read more...]