Beat poet Michael McClure, RIP

Esteemed Beat poet Michael McClure has died of complications from a stroke he suffered last year. He was 87 years old. A key figure in the 1950s San Francisco scene that formed around Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin's City Lights Bookstore, McClure was a contemporary of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Philip Lamantia. Along with his ecstatic, rhythmic poems, McClure also penned plays, songs, novels, and journalism for the likes of Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. Above, McClure reads his poetry to lions in 1966 for the USA: Poetry television series. From the New York Times:

A then 22-year-old McClure helped organize the famous Six Gallery beat poetry reading on Oct. 7, 1955, and later read at the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park that launched the Summer of Love in 1967 and at The Band’s “Last Waltz” concert at Winterland in 1976[...]

In McClure’s 1982 nonfiction account of the Six Gallery reading, “Scratching the Surface of the Beats,” he set the stage for the revolution that was to follow in the mid-1950s:

“The world that we tremblingly stepped out into in that decade was a bitter, gray one," he wrote. “We saw that the art of poetry was essentially dead — killed by war, by academies, by neglect, by lack of love, and by disinterest. We knew we could bring it back to life.”

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A Thanksgiving prayer from William S. Burroughs

And in accordance with tradition, Uncle Bill will now lead us in "A Thanksgiving Prayer" (1986). Read the rest

Now in print: William S Burroughs' lost guide to overthrowing a corrupt government

Tony Sanfilippo says, "'The Revised Boy Scout Manual," a lost Burroughs manuscript concerning how to overthrow a corrupt government has just been published in its entirety for the first time. With an afterword and reminiscence by V. Vale, publisher and founder of RE/Search publications. Vale's afterword is available in its entirety." Read the rest

Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac hang out with New York's beats, 1959

Bruce Sterling: *THEY DON’T LOOK countercultural cliche-dramatic, they don’t have beatnik berets or bongos. You wouldn’t look at them twice in New York City, but there’s still something subtly off about them. I think it’s that plethora of pens in Ginsberg’s untucked shirt." Read the rest

Living synth legend Giorgio Moroder: from Donna Summer to Bowie to Blondie to Daft Punk

Cuepoint looks back at the storied career of Giorgio Moroder, the pioneering producer who paved the way for nearly all electronic dance music since the 1970s and is still pushing new beats. Below, my favorite Moroder track, "Chase," heard in the film Midnight Express. From Cuepoint:

“The range of my audience is incredible,” he said. “I see young kids and older people, sometimes people in their forties, fifties, and even sixties! It’s fantastic to see people around the world dancing to my songs.” He’s now seventy-five and frequently tours—this time with a laptop loaded with hits from his opulent catalogue. On being called the oldest touring DJ, his response: “I don’t know if being the oldest is a good or bad thing [laughs]. But I really think it’s wonderful, if anything.”

"From Disco to Daft Punk: Giorgio Moroder’s Neverending Story" (Cuepoint)

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Dig this fun 1960 hipster dance party!

"Bohemian dancing it's called, and these kids start dressing up where the 'teds' and 'weirdies' left off." Read the rest

Documentary about UK counterculture in 1967

Over at Dangerous Minds, Richard points us to this fantastic 1967 short documentary "It's So Far Out It's Straight Down" from Granada Television. Allen Ginsberg, Pink Floyd, the staff of the International Times underground paper, and Paul McCartney all make the scene.

"The straights should welcome the underground because it stands for freedom," Sir Paul says. "It’s not strange it’s just new, it’s not weird, it’s just what’s going on around." Read the rest

Documentary about James Broughton, poet, filmmaker, Radical Faerie

James Broughton (1913-1999) was an icon of San Francisco counterculture and the Bay Area's Beat scene. A poet, filmmaker, and prankster, Broughton was one of the original Radical Faeries and a member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. His gravestone reads: "Adventure – not predicament." I can't wait to see this new film about Broughton, titled Big Joy, that's currently on the film festival circuit! "Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton" Read the rest