Exhibit: Beat Museum & environs / SF, 2018 / feat. Allen’s Organ, Jack’s Jacket, Gary’s Japa-cap and Beat Typewriters

Along a ramble…

Along the wanders, I found myself in San Francisco, really mostly in Pacifica, one of my favourite hideaways and just south of the city… but anyway, ventured into SF proper to (finally) get some time at the Beat Museum and wow, what a great job these folks are doing. As such, a few notes and artifacts from the museum and history dripping neighbourhood for your amusement and my memory.

Inadequate backgrounder…

Now I could go on and on about the importance of *the Beats* connecting literary traditions, sparking countercultures leading to the revolutionary “pranksters“ to the *hippies* (for lack of a better term), punks (no I’m not talking mohawks here), indie-making artists of all medium, everything… while also looking back to Whitman, cummings (sic), WCW, Wolfe, Twain, Thoreau, Dostoevsky… you get the general gist.  Or what I’m trying to see is wide-thinking, free-roaming, do it yourself souls sharing empathy for others, breaking conventions to find out who you really are and then manifesting the distilled results t into one’s own life which infuses your own soul, then effectuates inspiration in others – also (critically) this ain’t always pretty, rarely is. That’s not the point.

Work in progress…

Anyhow, the Beat Museum was (maybe is) undergoing some construction as the building needs an earthquake-resistant upgrade, – I’ve shared some various fundraising campaigns and podcast riffs about their history over the years in this archive maybe you’ve come across and supported their noble efforts… but anyway, the building was surrounded by scaffolding in a bit of commotion and for a guy like me has easily sensory overload it, it could easily be intense but I stepped in and disappeared for an afternoon amongst the curated exhibits.

This is not some fancy-pants museum, this is a grassroots effort with everything done by intention and in an attentive spirit. I took some crappy snapshots along the way just to remember for my own memory as i wander far and wide and sometimes the twist and turns get a little too quick for me to process real time in my noggin.

Artifacts and abstractions…

note: There is a little mini-theatre room looping a film (was it “Pull My Daisy? It’s all a bit hazy now a few countries later), which pleased me for the visual abstraction of Beat life as well as regrouping in a small / dark / cozy room.

Notable artifacts include:

“referee shirt” Neal Cassady famously wore while driving Furthur, the Merry Prankster bus

a plaid wool jacket Kerouac wore (I’ve had one just like it)

and a case of artifacts from Gary Snyder’s life including bits and pieces of mountain rambling gear and items connected to his time in Japan which well, fit right in my noggin

of course, living in Japan and thinking about poetry and nature all the times leads me to follow the footfalls of Gary whether intentional or not (and usually is)…

and an Allen Ginsberg’s pump organ – made for good times!

and an incredible early typed draft of “HOWL” – hard to overstate the importance of this poem

(Free the) typewriters… 

I especially took snaps  of various typewriters but didn’t really properly annotate and document who’s is who’s in what and where and all of the useful deets so think of these a little something to spark your enthusiasm to go see for yourself. Imagine the pounding rhythms of prose manifesting from these keys.

Atmosphere and vibes…

Downstairs there’s a Hudson car more or less similar to the one Jack and Neal drove in but it’s more for atmosphere and ambience not necessarily authenticity.

In the space (after reno), the dream is (as i gathered) is to put in a café serving espresso, hosting events and what not. I mean this is the kinda project i get all tingly about – a brand new renaissance and i think i/we are ready.

Curator convo…

Had a talk with Jerry the curator and some of the crew, I explained that I’ve been drifting between Nepal and Indonesia in the Mediterranean and the Arabian and was just in Japan and blah blah blah probably didn’t make that much sense,… actually it made total sense to them, this is the fcking Beat Museum after! Anyhow, the made me feel welcome and invited and important part of their efforts. Sometimes rambling gets a bit not lonely but alone so nice vibes.

Before going in, I told myself before going in “don’t buy any books because you’re hauling a backpack“ and my next stops of travels required a few modes of transport and tricky connective tissue between legs to Oakland, Pe ELL, Victoria, Vancouver, Nusa Ceningan and i have the better part of a 20ft container of stashed books so… of course I left with a bunch of books including:

Allen Ginsberg‘s India Journal (first edition, published in 1970 same years as me); Jack Kerouac’s “You’re a Genius All the Time“ a small book (which is a good idea when schlepping the stuff) of various sayings, inspirations and sparks; an auction catalog for the canceled auction of the noted “Joan Anderson” letter (more to say about this but suffice to say the auction didn’t happen due to some lawsuits which have been sorted out and one of these days that thing might actually get published); a few others i likely forgot…  plus a stack of postcards (including a reproduction of the original Beat Poetry reading at the Six Gallery which sparked so much goodness which has been a huge influence on my life blah blah blah) and various stickers – both of which i duly distributed all over the world, and probably a few chapbooks and what have you.

Literary reciprocity… 

Later, back in Indonesia, I sent these kind folks a big envelope of my little artifacts, – mostly cut -and-paste poems put onto substrates of vintage hotel letterhead and aerograms (Items Forgotten cycles). I also sent them a copy of my 1996 documentary film “Hempen Road“ which followed the Beat tradition of mixing pot and poetry into a mixed media bonanza. Suppose these things eventually reached, no I never did hear for sure (and that’s not the point of course).

Lend your support…

Anyhow, the Beat Museum is in the midst of the demo-urban-changes with absurd prices, changing city priorities and fickle consumers or what have and always need a slice of support (though i wonder why the bigtimer rock stars, actors, moneypants etc who roll through don’t kick down? i mean the rich cats line up to buy Kerouac et al artifacts so should be a easy hit to kick down a chill mill or hundo k fast as a Cassady parallel park if they really wanna be vicariously beat – Q: is this is a 501(c)3 not for profit operation?)  regardless, make sure you stop by, and buy a bunch of stuff – not just the five dollar (iirc) entry fee which is well worth it. And if you just cashed out a load of stock and have bread to spend on a Tesla, kick down a bit and roll train pass instead.

Loafing around the neighbourhood…

As for the location, it’s right by City Lights bookstore which is a pilgrimage for every any Beat literature enthusiast of course – fortunately for my backpack load, the store was closed for a staff event of some kind.

Of course, I tucked into Jack Kerouac Alley between City Lights and Vesuvio, a bar/coffee shop which is served luminaries for decades, and sparked a legal one thinking about all the photos I’ve seen various heroes from writers to rockers hanging out there.

City Lights – who’s patriarch, the legendary 100 years old maestro Lawrence Ferlinghetti, led efforts to rename the alley and also added a *walk through” book buying window to the alley, which in general, is perfect in all its post-Victorian painted glory.

Digression: Though i’m only tiny bit *famous*, i like to think the body of work i’ve created over decades would make these champions a wee bit proud of their influence and even moreso, hope the things i create (poems, pods, paints, letters etc) will spark renegade creative spirit in others (gratefully i am alive to see this happen). fck stats, make art indeed. 

Bay area flashbacks…

It is worth noting i’ve visited City Lights many times over the years and Vesuvio as well. Growing up in Vancouver (before Vancouver with all fancy and shiny), San Francisco seem like the coolest city in the world to me. And in the early 80s with a Drum Corps, I came down through here excited to tap into punk rock culture and skateboards. 

Later, following the Grateful Dead of course Bay Area is the heartland and I had the usual wild times up on the Haight (A few i was fortunate to survive quite frankly)…, spin a few years forward working for some Internet-centric companies and I ended up here from time to time for tradeshows, dareisay meetings, events whatever whatever…, tick forward a few years and Pacifica – which I mentioned before – became a human hideaway for me, especially Winter‘s Tavern (a few mistakes but even more good times), clam chowder in a bread bowl, walks on the pier, visits with dear friends, drive down to half Moon Bay, even the weirdest taco store…

To me Pacifica is just right with coffee shop, bookstore, secondhand stores, tavern, doctors, waterfront with whales and folks speaking many languages fishing off the pier. All the cultural movements which ive tapped in my vaguely-sordid life beat/hippie/punk/indie/diy/internets/activism  seem to have a strong SF connection to say the least.

All the words…

Anyway, that’s the Beat Museum (go support them), City Lights bookstore (obviously a pilgrimage), Vesuvio (have a beverage) – oh there are other haunts but hey, its handy and unpretentious considering, Jack Kerouac Alley (spark one for me),…

and glorious yet tragic San Francisco – I’m not sure what to say about with hills and neighbourhoods and mysterious without sounding reminiscent for a time past that I/we can only dream about now – places change, cities rise and fall, everything changes so go somewhere else which suits you best, but just remember: the Beat Museum, tell em Uncle Weed sent you.

Epilogue of sorts…

Then rambled on to Jack London Square, a train to northward, float planes and jetliners and borders and the rest it all…

Ended up back in Indonesia, then Japan and now the future…

  

PS There are several San Francisco and Beat specific podcasts in both the Postcards from Gravelly Beach and Choogle On with Uncle weed channels #hint

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