Batch of friendship cards made / sorta meta as the snaps are (mostly) all of making cards &/or tools used to do so (+ inky stamps to taste). Highly collectible :)
Continuing the story of the Olympia SM9 typewriter (from 2018 at Wonder Hotel) simply to show the difference a year of diligence and intrepidness can bring.
Yup, it truly was the most difficult of times, pulled in directions i didn’t want to go but then… states and provinces crossed, affairs sorted, planes and memories faced, trains and ferries joined / turmoil, bureaucracy, paperwork, disrespect and frustration, all well, just sort of sorted itself out. I mean, I know how but the point is: the time came when i was reunited with this typewriter and all was different from when i left it.
Still the keys get jammed, the ribbon inexplicably requires flipping/rewinding after barely a page of typing but, now smudged with thumbprints from changing said ribbon and supplied with aerogrammes from often lost countries, used envelopes with franked stamps (and sometimes intimate thoughts), and the usual hotel stationery, I made things.
Mostly poems and erstwhile letters, quite literally banged out without regard for perfection, just passion! Rapid transcriptions from scribbled journals, imagined lives of a doppelgänger, and notes from undergrounds.
Then joyfully accessorized with inky stamps and collages of postage stamps which may or may not have anything to do with the poem at hand (actually, they were all very intentionally consciously chosen but hey… that’s for the art to say). Oh, you can find evidence of these sessions in Items: Forgotten cycle vol. 7 Espionage and bits in vol. 6 Circumnavigation.
Now, the burly beast sits in a teakwood closet awaiting another opportunity to resist my indelicate fingers. Reminding me to touch gently with nuance and care.
All this is to say, art saves lives (in some cases anyhow).
Somewhere along the line, the wheels fell off completely, everything gone: life (rather death), love (so much), parents (both), career (ugh), health, confidence, desire, happiness, trust… all completely vanished.
Strung out, hospitals of a kind I won’t even mention, wrung out, battered and so very bruised… but, I pulled it together (thanks to kind pal) and found a safe place to hide.
A tiny room in a guest house ran by a kindly family who brought me coffee in the morning and otherwise gave me space to just be alone with, one small window, a fridge, a wet bathroom, a desk and bar, hard bed and two power outlets.
I purchased a typewriter and a printer and used in both extensively, enjoyably and liberally. The walls became covered with photos which caught my fancy, art which sparked something else, mementos of joys and fears to face.
The typewriter, and Olympia SM-9 from the 1970s (note: Owner’s manual (pdf): SM9-1970s) seems to be a knock off of some kind as I can’t find a serial number and, it just doesn’t have that solid precise action that the machine “should have”. There are a few foibles but it’s made of heavy solid metal, came “new in box” – shiny and pristine, just something is not quite right, kind of like me.
Anyhow, me and this machine typed poems on pads of hotel stationery, occasional repurposed telegram, letters which i’ll never send, and punk rock lyrics of angst and despair.
The neighbour was from Slovenia with a local mistress and a cigarette hobby and a little enough communication to be just the right amount.
I called this room “the Wonder Hotel” inspired by a SRO flophouse in my broken heart at home city of Vancouver. When i left, the daughters took down all my art bits and i made a massive scrapbook of rejuvenations, inspirations + amusements
I (mostly) hid, I (mostly) became calm, I pulled it together and then the future started. And started with this typewriter. Sloppiness and all. Maybe it is me after all.
+ Beat Support +
Many of you likely noticed the campaign to help the venerable San Francisco institution City Lights bookstore “keep the lights on” and hooray, they rocketed past the $300,000 goal thanks to many small donations from around the world. Now, there’s a few other neighbours in the North Beach area to shine a light on, specifically “the Beat Museum” – an eclectic grassroots archive of artifacts from Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and well… dozens of other luminaries who have influenced counter-culture, literature and music.
To pitch in, you can buy a membership – especially handy if you live in the San Francisco area as it offers unlimited admission – those of us *anywhere else* can dig discounts on purchases (including mail order), exclusive content/interviews/events, and a membership card – I’m a sucker for membership cards!
Did you see a big North Beach neighbourhood round-up diary post I shared recently? Included a photo essay of many items on display including Allen Ginsberg’s typewriter (along with many other typewriters), Jack Kerouac’s jacket, Gary Snyder’s bits and pieces from Japan and so much more.
+ Their bookstore has a variety of rare additions, one-offs, special treats (I picked up a first edition of Allen Ginsberg’s Indian Journal on my visit).
So to recap, do one or several of the following:
* Go check out their website to see their mission and the big hearted folks running the show
* Purchase a membership (various levels/prices)
* Maybe buy yourself a little something nice, or a gift for someone else
* Kick them down some extra cash
* Sign up for their newsletter for campaigns & updates
* Spread the word to keep the goodness rolling
You got any questions or thoughts? Let me know.
And of course if you’re seeking unique Beat literature related content, I have dozens of podcasts, various essays, scrapbooks, maps, and so on for you to peruse.
PS shared respectfully knowing lots of folks are in tough financial situations and there’s lots of requests rolling around for various dire situations – in spirit of solidarity, safety, and abundance.
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.
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)
Significantly, this collection contains images of several machines which ended up in sundry folders, drives and dossiers etc about which i am not entirely sure of the origin. This is important to point out as i don’t want to mistake someone else’s photo or whatever, but simply cannot recall but… since i kept the image, there is some significance which may not be revealed until later (at which point, i’ll dutifully update).
Additionally, if your photo is included, please do let me know and i’ll update.
Regardless, assembled here for historical / archival reference and personal interest, with annotations where possible.
Along our meandering honeymoon ramble, a spontaneous stop along the way – in an otherwise unremarkable corner of Ishikawa-ken at a 2nd hand shop – sparked two incidents.
The first was the purchase of a nearly perfect condition Olivetti Lettera 34 typewriter (note: the 33 and 35 are listed in Typewriter Database but the 34 is not as it is – perhaps – a Japan specific machine including a “¥ shift” key on the number row). Also noting UK Pound, various fractions and a margin release key.
Bought from the Granny shop owner for ¥2500 (about $22 US or $27 CDN) no haggling. (note: ribbon ordered as the one inside was dried out).
These ain’t cards for business, these are strictly pleasure for those i meet and/or call upon. It’s a club, or a confederation of associated renegades of sorts.
This batch are printed on water colour paper via inkjet, hand cut (lovingly) and inky stamped (stamps assorted).
The photos featured include: making cards, writing letters and postcards, materials used for making such – including watercolours, typewriters, postcards, scissors, pens, stamps and stationery. It’s all very recursive – or #meta – so to speak.
Stopped by the delightful Last Word Books in OlyWa (Olympia, Washington) – one of my faves in the world and holds loads of memories for me, as well as curates the “Uncle Weed Collection of Cannabis Books” (unofficial name). The location is onto the 4th in downtown Oly and is laden with both trad lit and all sorts of grassroots publications including from their in-house Last Word Press. Oh years ago they purchased the inventory of famed Port Townsend anarchistic publisher Loompanics iirc. The proprietor Sky Cosby is as eclectic and energetic as they come running bookshop, publishing imprint/press, also circus activities, perma-culture homesteading and other renegade community activities and initiatives. Rather remarkable fella indeed.