Beatnik Shindig in San Francisco: Bringing together the Beat Generation, their families, and readers

Christine, Jerry Cimino, and soifollowjulian

Christine, Beat Museum Founder and Director Jerry Cimino, and SoIFollowJulian

This week was the first ever Beatnik Shindig, hosted by The Beat Museum in San Francisco. I’m a huge Beat fan and have been since I was 19 years old. I’m so very fortunate to have worked with and become friends with Director and Founder of the Beat Museum, Jerry Cimino and his wife Estelle (whom he met in a bookshop after graduating college!).

For me, The Beat Museum is much more than a museum: it’s a gathering place, one that draws people in and invites them to be comfortable and share their stories. It is an all important archive of all things Beat. Someone called Jerry up and said, hey I have an old piano that used to be Allen Ginsberg’s. If you drive up here and pick it up, you can have it! People want to contribute to the Museum and help preserve this literary history. The Beat generation were a bunch of miscreants (I say this with love as I would identify myself and many of my friends as thus) who moved around a lot and couldn’t seem to settle down. As a result, things they owned, touched, used, are all over the country. People don’t know what to do with these items, but they realize this Beat history is a large part of our American literary canon, and they want to contribute. Continue reading →

Neal Cassady’s long lost “Joan Anderson letter” is found!!

JerryBeatMuseum

Jerry Cimino, Director of the Beat Museum. Image courtesy of The Beat Museum

Hoarders have been vindicated! The long lost letter of Neal Cassady has been found!! The letter would have ended up in the trash if it weren’t for Jack Spinosa, of West Hollywood. When his neighbor, of Golden Goose Press, was forced to move out of his office building, he started throwing everything away. Spinosa felt bad that people’s writing was just being trashed and saved boxes he never looked at. He kept them in his home without reviewing anything. The letter was discovered two years ago by his daughter, Jean Spinosa when she was cleaning out her father’s home. She found an envelope marked A. Ginsberg and initially there was some confusion as her father shares the same first name as Kerouac. She didn’t understand why Allen Ginsberg would be writing to her father. After reading a few pages she realized it was from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac. She began her research and realized what she found when she read the Paris Review interview with Kerouac. In it, he describes the letter and credits it with the basis of style for On the Road and describes a small drawing of a window. Continue reading →

My Life Archived by Unintentional Bookmarks in My Books

Your book collection is a reflection of yourself, your tastes, your intellectual pursuits, your career, and your circumstances. Your books themselves can be unintentional markers of where you were or what you were doing at certain points in your life. And the items you use as placeholders instead of bookmarks can reveal another level of who you were or are. I started a new project, going through all of my books and photographing what was left in each book. I went through all the books in my apartment but have yet to go through the books in storage at my folks’ house. I started because I found two safety pins in a book. I can’t recall the book (I wish it was something appropriate like Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me but it wasn’t). Regardless, I began to wonder what else I would find in my books.

There were too many items to include in this single entry. I still have more books to add for future blog posts. It’s fun to see who I was and what I was doing when I was reading these books. It’s interesting that many of the placeholders indicate an active social life while I’m sitting at home or on the bus reading a book. I have spent so much time out and about because if I don’t get out of my room, I’ll read or worse, watch tv all night. These placeholders reveal so much more than I remember about myself. Forgotten people, phone numbers. But they also remind me of how long I’ve known some friends, and how many states we have known each other. Whether that be physical states and mental states. They also reiterate the people that I’ve been friends with for many, many years. The ones that have seen me through going to shows like the Toiletboys and going to clubs ten years ago. And the ones that accepted my being a book nerd in the midst of a raging social scene.

Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg Still Creating A Community

When I was 22 I went on a pilgrimage to Lowell, Massachusetts to visit Jack Kerouac‘s home. It was ill planned, we were walking in the snow, there were no signs, and what was worse, no one had even heard of him! I would have given anything for a map with directions of where to go and what to do. Well, The Beat Museum and The Contemporary Museum (CJM) did just that. They partnered together to create a walking tour based around the history of the Beat Generation in North Beach, San Francisco, in honor of Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg at the CJM. More than fifty years after On the Road and Howl were published, a large group of people gathered to listen to their stories and to see their historical geography.

Kathryn Jaller kicking off the walking tour of North Beach with Jerry Cimino of The Beat Museum

Kathryn Jaller, of The Contemporary Jewish Museum, kicking off the walking tour of North Beach with Jerry Cimino, Founder and Director of The Beat Museum

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Creating the Mythology of Neal Cassady—Jack Kerouac’s On the Road: The Original Scroll


On the Road, the Original Scroll, Jack Kerouac, Beat, Beat Generation, Neal Cassady, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg

On the Road is about Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac driving across country, searching for something. It’s about their relationship with each other and the rest of the world. And it’s also about how Jack defines himself in relation to Neal and society. Jack Kerouac consciously creates a mythology through story, thought, and dialogue. Jack writes for a literary audience and to define his place in society. He uses Neal to both reflect and define himself. Jack likes the idea of being seen as a madman, he wants to be perceived as an outsider to society, to be aligned with alcoholic hobos, and defined as a hoodlum. He sees himself as an outsider that is too intelligent and wild to be understood by the common man. Continue reading →