The Disarmament of the Bored
If we are truly hungry we will eat anything, anywhere. In Aushwitz, philosophers killed each other for the bones in the gravel-pits. They ate the soup made of their brothers’ bodies.
If we are only moderately hungry we are rich. More than half the world’s population knows no other feeling but hunger. They spend their time searching for food, as we in America spend our time searching for the Apocalypse.
May 17, 2017
a review of
Where Is Vietnam? a Collection of Poems—an Anthology of new work by 87 Poets, edited by Walter Lowenfels, NYC., Doubleday and Co., 160 pages, $1.25.
A friend of mine once said that the only good reasons for reviewing a book were (1) to sell the book, or (2) to publicly kick the author in the ass. In this case I hardly know where to begin.
May 17, 2017
Hippies—the new aristocracy?
“A lot of us have been smokin’ reefers and layin’ broads in the bushes at Belle Isle for the last twenty years...and nobody ever called that a Love-In.”
Greaser and Frat Rocker and Mod Lower-middle class versus upper-middle-class America.
The struggle for the supremacy of class values among the recent Young. Both begin more or less together, as Screamies. It is the Mod who characteristically veers off to become the Teeny-Bopper and eventually the Hippie.
Jan 25, 2017
“The electric revolution”
Marshall McLuhan, better known as the Ombudsman of the Hipsters, hates the twentieth century.
Yet, in his cheerful 19th 21st century way he has patiently dissected the corpse (if haphazardly) and has shown us all a glimpse of the invisible Cancer of Media, without so much as flinching, without a single four-letter word. He obviously takes pride in his zealous but essentially dispassionate style—he has learned the scientist’s way of overwhelming; he has come up with his own version of E equals MC squared, and has categorically dared all onlookers to light the fuse.
Feb 16, 2017
“Of the heavy losses we have sustain e d”, author-sentimentalist Charles Beaumont once said, “none can be regarded with more melancholy than the loss of the great movie theatres.” A generation ago they proliferated, today they exist like brontosaurus, slipping into the churning swamp of American history.
Mar 28, 2018
“Grooving,” which we’ve been doing since birth, has recently taken on some formal definition as the Kulchur Kritiks attempt to sympathetically dig the spirit of the multimedia art forms. Grooving, they say means to yield yourself to the flow of activity around you. Grooving requires a lot of personal freedom, and a lot of self assurance. It is the opposite of uptight perception, the opposite of categorizing experience, the opposite of traditional logical “understanding”. Grooving is the ability to receive several clashing stimuli simultaneously, a form of perception dictated by the new urban environments.
Apr 7, 2018
...Political Assassination, and Concentration Camps
A few days ago a friend of mine asked me to amortize my obligations to RFK’s assassination by rendering a stirring Stars and Stripes article titled something like—Ban the Guns (it occurs to me that we haven’t even Banned the Bomb yet). His idea was that I should create apiece of literary magic that would induce Fifth Estate readers (against their better judgment) to go out and contact their congressmen with personal letters, informing these panderers of democracy that some of their constituents are outraged by the inadequacies of existing gun laws.
May 29, 2018
Notes on a Greek festival
...or how freedom was celebrated in Detroit
It is ironic that the recent “Freedom Festival” in Detroit was celebrated primarily in Detroit’s Grecian community.
It is actually tragic, when you consider that modern Greece lies dying at the feet of fascist armies, and that many, perhaps most, of the inhabitants of Detroit’s so-called “Greektown” are monarchists at heart, actually supporting the current Greek dictatorship. “Greektown, in short, is one Helluva place to celebrate a “Freedom Festival.”
May 30, 2018
In Search of the Ultimate Fantasy
A journey to Old Radio
To those of you tenderly under 20: imagine, if you dare, that tomorrow you could no longer obtain records anywhere. Imagine that all the record stores were suddenly boarded up. Imagine that all of your records and tapes have mysteriously disappeared, your stereo is missing, and that it is now impossible to gain access to music anywhere in the world. Pretend, for a moment, that all the musicians everywhere have suddenly left without notice!
Aug 14, 2015
a review of
Richard Wright, a biography by Constance Webb. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, NYC, 442 pages $8.95.
William Styron’s Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond, edited by John Henrik Clarke. Beacon Press, Boston, hardbound $4.95, paperback: $1.95
Whenever a better-than-third-rate book enters the midst of all the recent jet-propelled “publishing about Black” it must seemingly SCREAM! to be heard above all the confusing Noise of Publicity. Constance Webb’s gigantic biography of Richard Wright (author of Native Son, Black Boy,  and originator of the phrase, Black Power) does not, unfortunately, scream, and so it will probably drown in libraries (at $8.95 a copy) before it has had a chance to swim in public dialogue.
Aug 15, 2015
The Diary of Che Guevara
a review of
The Diary of Che Guevara, edited by Robert Scheer, Bantam Books, Inc., NYC, $1.25 paperback.
The recently-captured Bolivian diary of Dr. Ernesto “Che” Guevara has now been published on the heels of his death. Since his canonization is nearly in full swing, it will probably be a long time before an objective un-handwringing account of the broad “meaning” of the diary will be apprehended. So before I wax into his charisma myself, I should like to make a few remarks I consider important about the diary.
Aug 31, 2015
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
a review of
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. 1968. $5.95,
A special wildness with words, a special Taste for gory Under-Thirty-Decoding is all part of Tom Wolfe’s cool Aid to the “electro-pastel 400-horsepower energy and abundance of postwar American westernmost Reality.”
Jun 29, 2017
Poems for people who don’t read poems
a review of
Poems for people who don’t read poems by Hans Magnus Enzenberger, Atheneum Press, NYC. 1968. $2.95. 177 pp.
Hans Magnus Enzenberger, in case you forgot, is Germany’s greatest living poet. This is the first collected translation of his work in English. The English versions, translated by pros like Michael Hamburger and Jerome Rothenberg (and sometimes by Enzenberger himself) are absolutely brilliant.
Aug 6, 2019
Two film reviews
“Barbarella” is a gas. No doubt about it. In fact, it is one of the most enjoyable and imaginative movies ever made.
The picture, in a sense, takes Candy to the year 40,000 and drops her off somewhere just this side of surrealism. And all in all it’s a damn fine trip.
Since Barbarella, like other masturbatory heroines, is a product of pure imagination, it is only proper that she is at last free from the mundane restrictions of earthly reality.
Aug 7, 2019
The Big Party
The anatomy of a grand party in Detroit where we find a famous visiting poet, a famous black revolutionary, and a famous psychiatrist talking with the rich and the bored and everyone else.
Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish’s original monkey dinner was held at 19 Gramercy Park in New York in 1908, wherein Mrs. Fish invited the “haute monde” of her day, according to writer Tom Wolfe, to a dinner in honor of the Prince del Drago.
Of course, nobody bothered to ask who the prince was, but they all came, and there was the Prince, a full-grown Chambezi baboon in evening clothes, fitted in a wing collar and tails. This grand gesture was Mrs. Fish’s way of showing how strange “society” had become in her day, willing to go anywhere for whatever purpose, if it seemed grand and gay enough.
Feb 9, 2019
Works go Blimp and Gothic, Ltd.
YARGH! STOMP! GIGGLE...WOW!
SLAM! KILK! SIGH...POOT!
RRRRIP! THUD! SPOOOM! AHHHH. BONK! AAAGGHH! MUNCH! CHOFF! HEH, HEH, SPLUT! KLAT! ZZZZZZZZ, HAR, HAR, HEE, HAW, ZNIF! YUMPH!
Gothic Blimp Works is unbelievably good poetry and such (SLAM!)...I mean things is comin’ to life again.
Gothic Blimp Works is the world’s STOMP! STOMP! FLATTEN AND SMASH! And LOVE...ugh...ugh...UGH...UGH. AAAAHHHHHH!
Apr 17, 2019
a review of
The Assault on Childhood, Ron Goulart, Sherbourne Press, Los Angeles, 1969, $6.50
The Assault on Childhood is a book about the newest species of American human/animal: Superkid, and his manufacturers.
Superkid is a real product of mass culture, a person who is not a kid anymore, but who is not really an adolescent nor an adult either. Superkid is the new American person.
Apr 20, 2019
The ultimate phallic journey
1. Andy Warhol would have given his right arm (and probably his left buttock) to have created that epically-dull 2-1/2 hour underground film (starring Neil “Jack” Armstrong and Edwin “Archie” Aldrin) that was shown on American TV under such unusual circumstances a couple of weeks ago.
2. Weird-picture-of-the-Century-Award goes to a three minute TV segment during moonwalk: Nixon intruding (in color) with a pink telephone on split-screen image, talking to Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon; they are standing at military attention, with the American flag-prop reduced to red (and symbolic) black and white in foreground, LEM in background. Very weird unconscious satire. Deep-meaning picture.
May 13, 2019
Weird and Funny Words
It is a good time in American history to go back to roots, to “get down,” to forget speeches and lectures and concentrate on The Word.
The smallest practical unit of language is the word. Music is beyond language.
Without the word you can’t make a political speech. Without the word you can’t have nauseating ideological wars. Without the word you have to touch each other. Without the word you can’t quite call yourself human. Without the word we would all probably be happier, but less “human.” So who wants to be human if you can be happier being something else?
Jun 7, 2019
Helping an old woman, age 90, turn on
Age 90 is very different. A dusty journey has been traveled, a time-tunnel has been penetrated. Her 20th Century is a vast prismatic blur, a fantasy in which some parts hold up for the Truth.
In 1900, this beautiful woman was 21 years old. So many years ago that what you’re saying, what I’m saying today is a drop of curious mist in the great and sheer storm of human survival. Little more than a grunt, glint, tiny fart, etc., of the 90 year old cosmic voyage of this lady.
Jun 21, 2019
How does a Radical Read Art?
There is a Saying: “Good writing is counter-revolutionary. According to Ellen Willis (who did a piece on the Chicago Pig Riot in New American Review No. 6) good writing “is a reminder that literature is basically an activity of mandarins, that it is all too easy for a writer to start thinking like a mandarin, that literary mandarins will be eager to recruit us, since there are too few good writers around. It is an exhortation not to glory in literacy as an end in itself, but to use it responsibly. And by responsibly I don’t mean judiciousness, intellectual respectability, or the balanced view. I mean responsibility to our fellows and our struggle.”
Jul 31, 2019
Safe in Heaven
Jack Kerouac obituary
That old city-planner, Death, caught up with Jack Kerouac this October. Reportedly, it was an ugly death; drunk and despairing, his guts literally busting and bleeding inside the heavy lonely flesh. Kerouac had ruined his great good looks years before and now he had finally ruined his body, his brain, his life and perhaps his very spirit and karma. As Allen Ginsberg, his old friend, recently said, “he threw up his hands & wrote the universe don’t exist & died to prove it.”
Sep 5, 2019