Tag Archives: Allen Ginsberg

Obsessions: Our Solitary Fancy

Who wasn’t obsessed by the Beat Generation in high school? Okay, it was just unbearable punks like me. In Jack Kerouac, I saw a reflection of my ineloquent angst. I used to be able to recite entire paragraphs of On the Road, but I’ve since blocked all of it from my memory. I was particularly interested in Allen Ginsberg because, like me, he was unpretentiously pretentious—or at least we both tried to be. He might allude to a Greek myth in a poem written on acid. A surfer boy reeking of weed, I used polysyllables that made my classmates’ eyes …Continue reading

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Bohemian Rhapsody: ‘Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan’ by William Hjortsberg

To simplify, Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan (Counterpoint; 880 pages), William Hjortsberg’s massive new biography of the late, once-iconic poet and novelist, can be roughly divided into three parts: BUMMER. Brautigan’s childhood years, growing up poor and alienated in a dysfunctional family in the eternally drizzly Pacific Northwest. Highlights included the poet’s hospitalization—and treatment with electric shock—after throwing a rock into the local police station after a girl he had a crush on rejected him. TRIPPY. Brautigan’s arrival in San Francisco, well ahead of the Summer of Love, whose spirit he briefly seemed to embody, and …Continue reading

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Shig Murao: The Enigmatic Soul of City Lights and the San Francisco Beat Scene

On October 3, 1957, a judge ruled that Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems was not obscene. It was a decision that would pave the way for publication of works from Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, William Burroughs, and others. A key  figure from the Howl trial was Shig Murao. His life and legacy has been documented in a website that launches today, www.shigmurao.org. This essay is adapted from a much longer biography with multiple supporting documents published on the website created by Richard Reynolds, a longtime friend of Murao’s. Shig Murao was the clerk who on June 3, 1957, was …Continue reading

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