It’s a 16,000-word letter that Neal Cassady wrote to Jack Kerouac, who said it was his inspiration for On The Road. The letter, written in 1950, went missing and was found in an attic in Oakland, California, in 2011. Now for the first time it is being brought out in full by the London-based publisher Black Spring with an introduction by the noted Beat scholar A. Robert Lee, along with illustrations. I’m betting Lee will tell us if the letter really was the inspiration for On the Road—Kerouac, true to his calling, loved to make things up— and if he really did adopt his prose style from it. The reality is likely more nuanced than the legend.
A summer package for the avant garde:
‘BRION GYSIN LET THE MICE IN’ edited and with a foreword by Jan Herman and with an introduction by Douglas Field.
“MINUTES TO GO Redux’ edited and with an introduction by Oliver Harris.
‘THE EXTERMINATOR Redux’ edited and with an introduction by Oliver Harris.
‘BATTLE INSTRUCTIONS’ edited and with an introduction by Oliver Harris.
Ed Ruscha‘s latest poster “EE-NUF! VOTE!” offers this commentary: “Get Richer” / “Bye-Bye Roe Vs. Wade” / “Highway to Hell” / “Fast Track to Facism” / “Gobble More Gas” / “Kids in Cages” / “EE-NUF EE-NUF” / “You’ve Got the Most to Lose” / “Green Light Pollution” / “Gateway to White Supremacy”
Van Dyek Parks tweeted the poster today with this comment: “We will weave civility into the torn fabric of our flag—-with illuminations from the arts—by the likes of So-Cal’s adopted son Ed Ruscha.”
Readers wanted to know all about their celebrities, or at least about my encounters with them. From A-listers and B-listers right down to Z-listers. The whole stupid alphabet top to bottom. Names to be forgotten one day. They needed the publicity and I needed the job. I wasn’t a star fucker—I’ll say that, having come from the newsroom with no more interest in celebrities than any routine reporter. I was a stand-in for star fuckers.
This is what the people did back then: Infamous William M. Tweed, the corrupt 19th-century NYC power broker whose ring of cronies controlled the government purse, manipulated the legislature, and embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars, was booted from office in the election of Nov. 7, 1871. Thomas Nast depicted him in defeat as a bloated, gouty Roman consul clutching a broken sword, wearing a royal headband of threadbare dollar signs and a sovereign medallion off his miserable likeness on his fat belly. Fast forward to Nov. 7, 2020.
For more than 50 years Ben Vautier has worked “outside the walls,” embracing daily life in its multitude of contradictions. Now, in “Being Free,” an exhibition opening July 11 and running through October 11 in Chamarande, France (about 50 minutes south of Paris), he brings together more than 400 works which document his prodigious output.
Follow the countdown—the days, hours, minutes, and yes, even the seconds—to Blake Gopnik’s chat with Annalyn Swan about his biography of Andy Warhol. Well, it IS a big book. Big in page count (976). Big in subject (Warhol’s influence rivals Picasso’s.) Stellar in praise. (I’ve read only one review that dumps on it, persuasively.) So okay, a countdown.
Jeff Ball, collector extraordinaire of rare Burroughsiana, tells me he recently picked up a handful of relevant little magazines at auction in his seemingly endless quest to capture an intriguing slice of literary history. His collection also includes scattered ephemera which illuminate peculiar nooks and crannies of that literary history sometimes to telling effect. Have a look at a postcard to Herbert Huncke—signed by Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Peter Orlovsky, and Gregory Corso—that he also recently acquired. The ironies abound.
Register for this Zoom event (Thursday, June 18, 7:30 p.m. ET). As the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in the social safety net, protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder have mobilized a powerful new movement for racial justice. Leading economic experts discuss the gaping disparities by race and class that have driven so many Americans into the streets, and examine the prospects for policy and institutional changes that could create a more equal society, starting today.