A rapid-fire introduction to the “Beat Generation” focused on the story of “6 Poets at Gallery 6” reading Oct, 1955 SF CA when Allen Ginsberg, Phillip Whalen, Gary Snyder, Micheal McClure, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti et al were all in the room for a reading hosted by Kenneth Rexroth that would go into legend and launch a poetry renaissance in San Francisco and the world. Presented by Cannaverse Club.
Includes extended erstwhile members of the movement and “what happened” after that night as the poets and their friends scattered their influence globally (with, not surprisingly, a little bit of extra emphasis on Japan, Zen, India/Nepal) plus Merry Pranksters, Furthur bus, Grateful Dead and even the Simpsons. Whoa!
Lots of the usual ephemera, show & tell, couple of vinyl records, loads of books, various digressions and asides, hats & homework.
Note from UW: “If you’re curious *at all*, please share your questions and comments &/or “Replay live chat” at Youtube to catch some of the stuff I forgot to say during the premiere”
Pausing in the Kura barn from arranging dongles, cables, tripods – trying to upgrade tech aspect of telling stories – Dave starts with Kiana Brassest singing in the background while adding notes about decades of story making & thoughts about continuing with vigor.
Then into a recent Osera magazine cameo from a fermented foods tour (including saké, beer, cheese, wine, miso, shoyu…) in Maniwa, Okayama (which is also sorta son Ichiro’s first publication).
Next onto recent books by post including:
“Waiting for Now” world-traveling “Scarborough dude” Ken Bole *often very* candid letters from Japan, Nigeria, Thailand, Canada etc to friends and family (with numerous coincidences and intersections with my own life).
“High White Notes” – David S Wills’ brand-new literary biography of Gonzo writer/journalist renegade Hunter S Thompson – available from his Beatdom publishing imprint + riffs include namechecks for Dr. HST’s book of letters “Proud Highway” and references to Joseph Conrad (re: Importance of dedication to art), Henry Miller (re: Big Sur etc), and Jack Kerouac (re: enemy of my enemy is my friend – if he could get write about drugs and get published…)
“First Third” – beat, prankster, railroader, hero “Adonis of Denver” 50th anniversary of Neal Cassady’s partial autobiography, inscribed by his daughter Jami Cassady on behalf of Neal Cassady Estate –including postcards with noted photos of, and by, the elegant poet, photographer, lover and muse Carolyn Cassady – with the aim of “Keeping the legacy alive” ++ a bit about Ken Kesey & the Merry Pranksters Further bus.
Finally, a whole rundown of poets Gary Snyder and Wang Ping spending time together at Kitkitddizze in Sierra Nevada –working on translation, amplification and edification including coffee, Han Shan poems, Hanko stamps, sons Gen and Kei, Lagunitas IPA and gyoza dumplings and cowboy steaks, the history of Axe Handles poem (and translation thereof), Snyder’s new book “This Present Moment” and me at “home” (finally) in a red velvet robe with coffee cup by potter Marty Thurston Kendall of Utah knowing while our journey is our own, there is precedent for path before (like I can be 91 hanging out with my son Ichiro, living well and making poems in a barn).
What follows are my notes for a talk called “On the Road to Creativity” for Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver. The format includes 20 slides for 20 seconds each, auto-changed. As such, the pace is brisk and a bit of a high-wire act. No audio/video exists but there is a “roundup” of photos, tweets, and other artifacts including the hand-crafted “paper-point” collage slides. See “Consider Perusing” below.
1 – On the roadI’ve spent much of my life wandering around the globe working odd jobs including mushroom farmer in Japan, grape picking in Germany, beach club host in Guam and even following the Grateful Dead – all these experiences provided lots of time for thinking mostly about the meaning of art and importance of documentation – here’s what i cam up with
2 Art makes the futurewhile the history we learn is laden with the stories of kings, conquerers, popes and rulers, the only reason we know anything about how people lived, loved and thought is because artists took the time to chronicle the the stories through paint, words, carvings, and song. From the earliest cave painters to bloggers, there is vast evidence for the importance of storytelling.
3 Art Craft SchwagNo doubt today like olden times, there is a tremendous amount of disposable pop culture created to satiate common interest but the best stuff created by diligent artisans rises above the layer of schlock into the territory of craft and then transcends into a rarified area of art which will last centuries rather than 15 minutes. But who decides what is art? And don’t give me that “i know what i like” answer.
4 Craft + IntentInstead I’ve made a formula to sort out these largely subjective criteria – first off, take Craft – skill honed from thousands of hours of consideration, then add Intent – which, while subjective, can be gauged by heart of the creator, and then multiplied by the artist’s Integrity as seen by an audience. The audience who truly breathes life into a story, no matter the medium. This formula doesn’t work for you? Cool, make another, but be sure to share. Art does not live in a vacuum, art yearns to be shared.
5 Audience / Awesome But this can be tricky for artists who must balance their internal desire and, dareisay mission, to create authentic art with the often debilitating practical need to make a living. I’ve found that my projects which garner the biggest audience, are not necessarily the ones which i maximize my artistic potential – find where you audience and awesomeness intersect and try to find a way to hang out there.Here’s how:
6 Upgrade your Heroes First upgrade your heroes – history is scattered with underknown world-changers, and the present is too. Dig beyond pop culture, politicians and sports personalities to find remarkable predecessors to your work – for me, my heroes range from writer of “Confessions” and “The Social Contract”, Jean Jacques Rousseau, to current day punk rock photographer bev davies. Who are your historical dopplegangers?
7 Personal Archaeology Next, embark on personal archaeology – dig into your closet to find forgotten dreams from those black white photos you took in yellowstone to graduate thesis to 4th grade book reports to your journals from hitchhiking down the coast. Take the risk to share these artifacts with your small slice of the world and let them breathe life into your work.
8 Embrace TranslucencyTransparency isn’t interesting – instead share the parts of you which are compelling and you are capable of backing up – accept risks but protect the parts of you which are too delicate to expose. Create interest through scarcity and self-editing and be prepared to deal with any reaction which comes along.
9 Express with vigour You are an expert on something, don’t rely on others to create the historical record – everyone has access to remarkable publishing and promotion tools so step it up and dig deep to tell your unfiltered opinions and don’t let cynics bring you down – if you can’t surprise and impress yourself, no way you can evoke emotion from an audience.
10 HSTI think of “Express with Vigour” as the “Hunter S Thompson rule” – while his reputation has been somewhat maligned through hollywood movies, the fake Doctor was the finest social commentator since Samuel Clemens and offered significant discourse about Jimmy Carter, Hell Angels, 9/11 – and did it with a significant buzz – but always had a job because he expressed himself wisely and vigorously.
11 Cross TrainingNow sometimes the pressure to create awesomeness can be debilitating – staring at a white sheet of paper and all that – rather than stressing, experiment with other mediums and get interdisciplinary with cross training skillz and your stories will manifest through the other tools – i contend V. Van Gogh c/would’ve made it as a writer if the painting hadn’t worked out.
12 Don’t Get PreciousWith all this goodness you are creating, it’s easy to get protective of your thoughts and work. Rather than waiting for someone to make you an offer you can’t refuse, share your work openly and willingly – learn about creative commons, find collaborators, encourage remixing and your work will create a culture of its own. It’s not always fair but it is usually fun.
13 Ignore GatekeepersThe established business models for artists are relatively modern and designed to create value for the shareholders of corporations. The goal of landing a major label record deal or a big publishing advance are no longer needed or valued – be your own imprint, chart your own course, the gatekeepers may look intimidating but they are made of stone so walk on by.
14 Cross Pollinate When your work is released to the world to an audience – no matter the size – you’ll see a culture begin to grow around it – In the hills of Japan, I learned that once inoculated, Shiitake mushrooms propagate their culture from one log to the next – as the older logs rot away and stop producing, new logs down the line are fruiting fungus. Ditto with your audience.
15 Get more drummersOne dude drumming alone can make some noise but is not a party – recruit more drummers to amplify your story in their own way and spread your message across continents and oceans while building relationships and playing well with others. More fun, more effective plus you need others to have your back from time to time. Your momma told you are 1 in a million – that means there are at least 30 people just like you in Canada alone – go find em.
16 Formula for creativity The old Edison maxim suggest success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration – this isn’t my formula – my formula for creative expression is 80% meditation, 10% execution and 10% inebriation – what i mean by that is the real work comes in the white space of life where you contemplate your story – the inebriation part is about pushing yourself to where you get a little scared.
17 Collect notes along the wayTravelling light means not accumulating much – for me gathering ephemeral objects along the way can be a short cut to remembering where you were mentally, emotionally, artistically decades later – a train ticket or dried flower can leap you back to a place in time which can benchmark how much you’ve remained the same while constantly evolving and spark new creative pursuits.
18 make it for yourselfEveryone else is just eavesdropping – this ain’t your job – its for love not money so make it exactly how you want it. Push out the nagging naysayers in your noggin and create something with integrity and for the love of all things decent, don’t cheese out for the quick win. Be sell out proof and make things you’ll want to read when you are old and grey.
19 Reap RewardsMaking stories for the future isn’t a way to gain the material trapping of perceived success. You may never see your reward beyond the admiration of a small tribe of others – but that’s enough. Success will be a surprise you likely don’t expect. Don’t wait for your ship to come in, instead realize it might get lonely out waiting for your bus to roll in so get comfy and settle in.
20 Hang looseI’m dave, i’m all over the internet – i have a killer job so you can’t hire me but you can buy me a beer – thank you and hang loose vancouver
What follows is transcription of a talk called “Fck Stats, Make Art” at Northern Voice, 2008 in Vancouver, BC. Original audio (record by Jay Stewart who is identified as Speaker 1 below) exists, as does a “round-up” of photos, tweets, artifacts, and so on. See “Consider Perusing” below.
Speaker 1:We’re at Northern Voice 2008 in Vancouver BC at the University of British Columbia Forestry Science Center and I’m about to record Dave O’s presentation. What is the name of the presentation?
Speaker 2:Fuck Stats Make Art.
Speaker 1:Fuck Stats Make Art. It’s going to be a little bit controversial because he’s going to give a call to up the ante on quality of stuff people are posting. He’s like, “It doesn’t matter if people are looking, it matters if it’s good content, that’s more important.”
Speaker 2:Certainly good content comes first and then you really [inaudible 00:01:06].
Speaker 1:I don’t need to know when people’s cats are going to the bathroom. I see a lot of that on Twitter and other sites and stuff, you know?
Announcer:So, it’s my pleasure to introduce one of my best friends here Dave Olson. He also works with me at Raincity Studios and I’m really excited that you guys get to hear him talk today. I think this talk would be quite a bit different from everything else that you hear at Northern Voice.
I dragged, Dave, kicking and screaming in the world of Google Analytics and I just didn’t get it, just like every moment I spent either looking at my viewers or attracting new ones is one less moment I’m writing or doing something else that I love. So, I always respected that about him.
He’s a poet, a filmmaker, an author, photographer and many other awesome things. Anyway, I’ll leave it up to him to go with the rest. So, welcome to Fuck Stats Make Art.
The Paris Review is a literary magazine featuring original writing, art, and in-depth interviews with famous writers.
Located in the mostly posh neighborhood of western Colorado’s Woody Creek Canyon, ten miles or so down-valley from Aspen, Owl Farm is a rustic ranch with an old-fashioned Wild West charm. Although Thompson’s beloved peacocks roam his property freely, it’s the flowers blooming around the ranch house that provide an unexpected high-country tranquility. Jimmy Carter, George McGovern and Keith Richards, among dozens of others, have shot clay pigeons and stationary targets on the property, which is a designated Rod and Gun Club and shares a border with the White River National Forest. Almost daily, Thompson leaves Owl Farm in either his Great Red Shark Convertible or Jeep Grand Cherokee to mingle at the nearby Woody Creek Tavern.
Visitors to Thompson’s house are greeted by a variety of sculptures, weapons, boxes of books and a bicycle before entering the nerve center of Owl Farm, Thompson’s obvious command post on the kitchen side of a peninsula counter that separates him from a lounge area dominated by an always-on Panasonic TV, always tuned to news or sports. An antique upright piano is piled high and deep enough with books to engulf any reader for a decade. Above the piano hangs a large Ralph Steadman portrait of “Belinda”—the Slut Goddess of Polo. On another wall covered with political buttons hangs a Che Guevara banner acquired on Thompson’s last tour of Cuba. On the counter sits an IBM Selectric typewriter—a Macintosh computer is set up in an office in the back wing of the house.
The most striking thing about Thompson’s house is that it isn’t the weirdness one notices first: it’s the words. They’re everywhere—handwritten in his elegant lettering, mostly in fading red Sharpie on the blizzard of bits of paper festooning every wall and surface: stuck to the sleek black leather refrigerator, taped to the giant TV, tacked up on the lampshades; inscribed by others on framed photos with lines like, “For Hunter, who saw not only fear and loathing, but hope and joy in ‘72—George McGovern”; typed in IBM Selectric on reams of originals and copies in fat manila folders that slide in piles off every counter and table top; and noted in many hands and inks across the endless flurry of pages.
Thompson extricates his large frame from his ergonomically correct office chair facing the TV and lumbers over graciously to administer a hearty handshake or kiss to each caller according to gender, all with an easy effortlessness and unexpectedly old-world way that somehow underscores just who is in charge.
“The Hippies” (Collier’s, 1968) Thompson’s assessment of the actual lifespan of American hippie culture. “The hippie in 1967 was put in the strange position of being an anti-culture hero at the same time as he was also becoming a hot commercial property. His banner of alienation appeared to be planted in quicksand. The very society he was trying to drop out of began idealizing him. He was famous in a hazy kind of way that was not quite infamy but still colorfully ambivalent and vaguely disturbing.”
“The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” (Scanlan’s Monthly, 1970) A report from the bacchanal surrounding the Kentucky Derby, America’s most famous — and, in this depiction, by far its most grotesque — horse race. Also Thompson’s first collaboration with his longtime illustrator Ralph Steadman. (See also further background at Grantland.) ”Unlike most of the others in the press box, we didn’t give a hoot in hell what was happening on the track. We had come there to watch the real beasts perform.”
“Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in ’72” (Rolling Stone, 1973) Excerpts from Thompson’s book of nearly the same name, an examination of Democratic Party candidate George McGovern’s unsuccessful bid for the Presidency that McGovern’s campaign manager Frank Mankiewicz called “the least factual, most accurate account” in print. “My own theory, which sounds like madness, is that McGovern would have been better off running against Nixon with the same kind of neo-’radical’ campaign he ran in the primaries. Not radical in the left/right sense, but radical in a sense that he was coming on with a new… a different type of politician… a person who actually would grab the system by the ears and shake it.”
“The Curse of Lono” (Playboy, 1983) Thompson and Steadman’s assignment from Running magazine to cover the Honololu marathon turns into a characteristically “terrible misadventure,” this one even involving the old Hawaiian gods. “It was not easy for me, either, to accept the fact that I was born 1700 years ago in an ocean-going canoe somewhere off the Kona Coast of Hawaii, a prince of royal Polynesian blood, and lived my first life as King Lono, ruler of all the islands, god of excess, undefeated boxer. How’s that for roots?”
“He Was a Crook” (Rolling Stone, 1994) Thompson’s obituary of, and personal history of his hatred for, President Richard M. Nixon. ”Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place.
“Doomed Love at the Taco Stand” (Time, 2001) Thompson’s adventures in California, to which he has returned for the production of Terry Gilliam’s film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp. ”I had to settle for half of Depp’s trailer, along with his C4 Porsche and his wig, so I could look more like myself when I drove around Beverly Hills and stared at people when we rolled to a halt at stoplights on Rodeo Drive.”
“Fear & Loathing in America” (ESPN.com, 2001) In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Thompson looks out onto the grim and paranoid future he sees ahead. “This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed — for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush.”
“Prisoner of Denver” (Vanity Fair, 2004) A chronicle of Thompson’s (posthumously successful) involvement in the case of Lisl Auman, a young woman he believed wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of a police officer. “‘We’ is the most powerful word in politics. Today it’s Lisl Auman, but tomorrow it could be you, me, us.”
“Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray” (ESPN.com, 2005) Thompson’s final piece of writing, in which he runs an idea for a new sport —combining golf, Japanese multistory driving ranges, and the discharging of shotguns — by the comedy legend at 3:30 in the morning. “It was Bill Murray who taught me how to mortify your opponents in any sporting contest, honest or otherwise. He taught me my humiliating PGA fadeaway shot, which has earned me a lot of money… after that, I taught him how to swim, and then I introduced him to the shooting arts, and now he wins everything he touches.”