The Beats: A Graphic History -- unflinching and wonderful history of The Beats


24 Responses to “The Beats: A Graphic History -- unflinching and wonderful history of The Beats”

  1. Takuan says:

    well, can you at least dictate this stuff and leave the recordings somewhere?

  2. rawlangs says:

    On hold at the library. Done and DONE. I don’t think I’ve been let down by a graphic novel recommended by BoingBoing yet.

  3. McChud says:

    Agreed, Jeffrey Lewis (tho a common name) was not in The Fugs. Jeffrey Lewis, also an accomplished comic book artist, sings about The Fugs in “Complete History of Punk Rock”:
    Also, he is AWESOME!!!

  4. Teller says:

    I know Neal Cassady died walking a railroad track outside of San Miguel de Allende, what I want to know is: was he really counting railroad ties?

  5. 13strong says:

    This sounds fucking great. Thanks for the heads up, Cory.

  6. buddy66 says:

    Maybe it’s time for a blog/website…


  7. Roy Trumbull says:

    On upper Grant Av. in SF was a coffee shop known as “The Place”. They had a spot that was used on “Blabbermouth Night”. Anyone could discourse on anything. One past winner of Blabbermouth Night was sitting drinking his coffee when a Grayline tourist bus pulled up. When the door opened he jumped in the bus and went up and down the aisle and to each in turn said “Fuck You!”.
    When the tourists got off the bus they all took his picture and those with Polaroids wanted his autograph.
    As time went on and the tourists got more pesky the Beats acquired broken thrift store cameras. Every time a tourist photographed a Beat, the Beat would pull out his camera and photograph the tourist.

  8. Anonymous says:

    All right! A book about that group from “Doug”… wait.. oh.. my bad… I thought it was “The BEETS”….

  9. buddy66 says:


    I had the mixed blessing of knowing Dean Moriarity.

  10. Professor Booty says:

    I can’t be the only one that thought this post was about the band from Doug, can I?

  11. rudezombie says:

    The Beets? Killer Tofuuuuuuuu

  12. Another Aaron says:

    How would you judge his general characterization by the various other beat writers to be exaggerated, or dead on?

  13. buddy66 says:

    Spot on. Of course he was kind of living up to his reputation when I knew him, post-”On The Road, but he was still obviously extremely intelligent and running wide-open.

    Few have paid much attention to his literary influence. But it should be remembered that Ginsberg gave Neal’s prison letter (“The First Third”) to Kerouac and said that “This is the way we should be writing.” And what happened? “Howl” and “On The Road.” If you haven’t read the letter, you probably should.

    Yeah, sure, he was a hustler, a low-level sociopath — “a common Western type,” Larry McMurtry called him — but he was also something more than that, although I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what.

    I wonder if he ever took an IQ test?

  14. wolfiesma says:

    Buddy, thanks for sharing the first person accounts of these roustabouts. That’s amazing to me that you knew them.

    In high school we had to pick an American author and read 1000 pages of their work and write a report. Can you believe my Dad actually suggested the name Kerouac? My English teacher was a little reluctant to let me do it, but just sort of shook his head and said, “Ok.” And, uh, since then, I don’t think I’ve ever really been the same. :)

  15. buddy66 says:

    It’s amazing how these guys hang on. This was 50-60 years ago! Their output rivals Bloomsbury for scantiness and superficiality. There are maybe a dozen works of true merit among them.

    The beats were just a heavily media-created branch of 20th century American bohemia, although Allen Ginsberg by himself was a public relations dynamo and an indefatigable literary agent. Certain inclusions, however, would, wail to the heavens to be called ”beat.”

  16. NeilChi says:

    Anyone interested badly needs Off the Road by Carolyn Cassidy, Neal’s wife.
    Or, as a friend of mine once said, “When I read Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, I wondered who washed the dishes.”

  17. Takuan says:

    how are those memoirs coming anyway?

  18. franko says:

    it’s not a graphical version by any means, but “big sky mind” is also a fantasic book about the beats, from a buddhist angle. highly recommended:

  19. buddy66 says:

    Probably. He would get absolutely ripped on speed, just wailing, babbling obsessively; one of the world’s great marathon talkers/drivers/fuckers. I once listened him circumnavigate a question for 15 minutes, wide open, before landing with both feet on the answer, grammatically and logically intact. The poor bastard was a marvel of nature.

  20. buddy66 says:

    Anybody who wanted to—overseen by St. Fay Kesey, Ken’s wife.

  21. jeremyhogan says:


  22. Another Aaron says:

    You listened to him in person, or on a recording?

  23. buddy66 says:

    I think Kerouac holds up really well. His was a genuine talent. Your father did right to recommend him. Looking back on the times, it seems to me that he foreshadowed the sort of international mobility the next generation of American bohos became noted for. I’m surprised he’s not required reading in high school Am Lit classes.

    I didn’t really know that many of the old Beats, just some of the California poets and artists that came to be associated, usually mistakenly, with the Beat Generation. It was mostly a media creation anyway.
    Memoirs ain’t what I do, Takuan, although I do have a couple of great stories about Janis Joplin that I might someday share.

  24. eggsyntax says:

    I’m reasonably certain that Jeffrey Lewis was not a member of The Fugs, although his radical cred just went through the roof, in my opinion, with his brilliant and understated cover album of songs by seminal anarcho-peace-punk band Crass.

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