F.J. Ossang: The Grand Insurrectionary Style by Nicole Brenez

F.J. Ossang: The Grand Insurrectionary Style   

Nicole Brenez

Cinematographer, writer, singer, messenger: F.J. Ossang, born in the Cantal on 7 August 1956. Practices poetry in all its forms. Subject of a retrospective at International Film Festival Rotterdam, 25 January – 5 February 2011.
He makes music – nine albums with his band MKB (Messageros Killer Boys) Fraction Provisoire; he writes prose – some twenty books, including De la destruction pure (1977), Corpus d’octobre (1980), Descente aux tombeaux (1992), Unité 101 (2006) and the emblematic Génération néant (1993); he makes films – ten movies and as many visual poems, if poetry means a violent outburst of vitality.
Ossang pretends not to concern himself with painting and drawing, but he has created sublimely beautiful tones of grey in Silencio (2007), and always gives carte blanche to his outstanding cameramen: Darius Khondji for Le trésor des îles chiennes (1990), Remi Chevrin for Docteur Chance (1997) and Gleb Teleshov for Dharma Guns (2011), making it possible for them to create radiant images without equal on any silver screen in the world. Joe Strummer said (after Docteur Chance) that Ossang is the only filmmaker he would immediately work with again. Ossang’s work belongs to the grand insurrectionary style that runs throughout the history of anti-art, from Richard Huelsenbeck to the films of Holger Meins. (1)
Ossang’s aesthetic has the singular capacity of displaying his expressive, narrative and rhythmic inventions in the context of an iconography of the most popular kind – in such a way that their poetic intensity transforms archetypes (bad guys, social groups, femmes fatales, warriors) back into prototypes, and facile effigies into fascinating creatures distraught with love, emotions, flux and space. He is a great filmmaker of adventure: bold images and scenarios in the form of expressive epic poems; the psychological vicissitudes of characters who move from rapture to ecstasy until they evaporate in the upper atmosphere because they can never again descend – like, for instance, at the end of Docteur Chance.

The story does not present events in the dreary manner of the average film, but allows room for visual developments, like Jean Epstein or the Soviet masters, including the Mikhail Kalatozov of I Am Cuba (1964). Instead of showing the chase or the race, Ossang films the world that produces such velocity, plunging into the substance of colours and the experience of sensations. Whatever the story may be, it springs from a love of words: not so much the dialogue but the formulation, the insert, the slogan, the point – giving rise to the monumental handwriting that so characterises his work.

But, most of all, Ossang’s cinema involves bringing back epic gestures to popular visual culture, tearing things apart until they become inconceivably beautiful. In Dharma Guns (2010), he creates a poetry of the ‘final images’, fits of giddiness, psychological account-settling that invade our brains as death approaches – the gleams and flashes he has still to extract from his much-loved argentic.

For More on This Visit F.J. Ossang: The Grand Insurrectionary Style by Nicole Brenez 

Claude Pelieu and Mary Beach

Mary Beach was born in Hartford, Connecticut in on May 8, 1919. In 1925, after her mother's divorce, she moved, for six months out of the year, to France with her mother and two sisters. During the first part of World War II she lived in the small town of St. Jean de Luz, but, with the entrance of the United States in the war in 1941, she was soon viewed as a suspicious alien and was, for a time, interned in a Nazi prison camp known as Glacière.

Despite her parent’s protests, but perhaps under the influence of her distant relative Sylvia Beach, famed proprietor of Paris's Shakespeare & Co. and the first publisher of James Joyce, Mary pursued her life as an artist with great passion from an early age.

Her first solo show was at the Galerie du Béarn, in Pau, France in 1943, and she has since then continuously exhibited her work all over the world.

Mary returned to the United States in 1946, where she married Alain Joseph (an American soldier she had met in France) and had two children, Pamela and Jeffery. She attended the Hartford Art School (where she won first prize in her class), and also attended school at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
 In 1957 Mary and her family returned to France, to Strasbourg, and then Paris in 1959. She attended the esteemed Grande Chaumière, where she studied under Henri Goetz. She exhibited at the historic Salon des Indépendents in Paris in both 1957 and 1958; won the Prix du Dome at the Salon des Femmes Peintres in 1959; won 1st Prize, Vichy, France, and Silver Medal in 1959 as well; and was exhibited at the Salon des Surindépendents in Paris in 1960.

These early accomplishments stand alone, and would be exemplary for any artist. But for an American woman in France -- for a wife and mother in the late 1950s anywhere, Mary's success in the male-dominated art world is truly astounding. She is one of the great, under-appreciated pioneers of her generation.

After the loss of her first husband, Mary met Claude Pélieu. While living with Claude she continued to work and exhibit all over the world (Galerie du Moulin Rouge, Biennale de Paris; Suzan Cooper Gallery; Galerie Wandragore, Rouen; etc., etc.). During this time she worked at City Lights, in San Francisco, where she discovered and published the poet Bob Kaufman and, under her own imprint of Beach Books, Texts, and Documents, published William Burroughs. She also collaborated extensively with Allen Ginsberg.

Claude Pélieu and Mary Beach met in 1962 and, until Claude's unfortunate passing in December of 2002, shared an exemplary rich and creative life. Traveling extensively while living primarily in Paris, New York and San Francisco, their existence was a bohemian adventure during which they ceaselessly explored and continuously created.

With a keen and graceful eye they deconstruct, critique and reinterpret the classical and contemporary worlds of art and media, while creating striking new works of wit and beauty -- drawing subconscious associations that are both mysterious and poetic.

Long hailed in Claude's native France as the natural inheritors of the Surrealist legacy (a direct line has been drawn by French critics from Picasso and Braque to Schwitters and Duchamp to Warhol and Pélieu), their works are highly prized and respected.

However, in Mary's native America, the pair remains relatively unknown, their work still awaits discovery by both mainstream critics and collectors. Mary passed away on January 26, 2006, after a long illness. Up until a week before she passed, Mary was still drawing and painting. She was contemplating a new series of ink drawings.

If you would like to see a slideshow comprised of Mary Beach and Claude Pelieu's Collages which they created later in their lives, please visit this link: Ginger Eades Tribute to Mary & Claude (Dedicated to Pam)    

Poem by Phil Scalia

The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Florida
A Coney Island Hot Dog of the Mind

Losing sleep over silly things
like the butterfly effect and bracket creep
and what flesh eating disease can do
to the pedal extremities of a skinny-legged woman
and the unsightly marks left on my back
by the wet slats of an Adirondack chair.

Doing a fist pump like Archimedes in a bathtub full of gin
while cutting myself with a Burma shave,
the doctors ordered more tests
so my fantasia grew a dysplasia.

with due diligence
calculating the gray areas
of a 3-4-5 right triangle,
solving The Crime Of The Century -
Who Shot J.R.?
Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

Given half a chance
I’d stuff the fortune back in the cookie
and give it to The Man Who Has Everything.

by Phil Scalia

Poem by Jonathan McElroy

Another Breath

When you take a breath
Take like it's your last

You'll never know
Give thanks for another second
Embrace the sunrise
Love the homeless
Forget about yesterday
Smile because there's no reason to frown
Don't let anyone bring you down
But lift them up
Play in the rain
Get burnt in the sun
And enjoy every season that passes
Meet new people
Make new friends
Don't be afraid of what's out there
It's not what's out there but what's in here
Inside you
That's your life
Make memories
And don't live in regret
Don't forget
But remember every thing in life is lesson
Never stop expanding
And never forget
That Every morning you wake up
You were granted another breath
Instead of death


Review of Jan Kerouac: A Life in Memory, edited by Gerald Nicosia, author of Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac

Jan Kerouac Could Drive a Stick Shift: by Charles Plymell

Jan Kerouac: A Life in Memory provides accounts of Jan Kerouac's life and her relationship with her father, Jack Kerouac, recalled by those who knew her. Jan was essentially a throw-away kid of the 60's and 70's following the down-and-out lifestyle of drugs but writing in a new style and for new times. Jack Kerouac, a Republican from a middle-class Catholic family, lied about her conception and had to live with that lie. Jan Kerouac also had to live with that lie. Her dad went home to his mother and drank himself to eternity; she tried to keep his spirit alive while trying to lift her mother and herself from poverty. Her father’s fame began with him finding the early subculture of the 50's; her experiences began in another subculture of the 60's. As she tells Gerald Nicosia,” Yeah, I took my first acid trip on February 14, 1965, which was two days before my thirteenth birthday ... Wait a minute! ‘65? That’s right, that’s right.” She was in the 7th grade, in a fabulous love affair with a tattoo artist who gave her one.

Wait a minute! What was her father doing in the 7th grade? In this book, perspectives arise, generations parallel. Her father had millions of readers turning on middle-class New England kids who were held captive by their parents, and his work spread like wildfire to San Francisco, and later to a new generation of hippies, then to mature academic elitists who rendered it safe, and even to famous people and the world in general. His daughter, Jan, tried to find a proper place for his archives. Aram Saroyan reminds us that John Sampas was selling off items piecemeal: “He had sold Kerouac’s raincoat and at least a couple of Kerouac letters to Johnny Depp for over $20,000.” She grew up in the psychedelic sixties, post-McLuhan, where medium was the message that exploded. He had the advantage of Time & Life newsstands along the roads of a simpler decade. She was left on the road in a media generation where Time and Life were relics. His archive brought millions. She had to scrape up money for dialysis.

Jan Kerouac in vamp makeup, age 13- Lower East Side, New York City- at a time when she was working as a prostitute.
At the crossroads of these parallel lifestyles, the craven vultures hovered from their safe perches to make sure this baby would not interfere with their industry. She couldn’t even rely on her godfather, Allen Ginsberg, a college student with marketing acumen, who began by shocking audiences with his naked, hairy body and made friends with hipster Herbert Huncke, who happened to remark in tired lexicon, “I’m beat,” apparently new words to the college kids who built a generation on them. Jack Kerouac, with an uncanny ear for jazz, developed his bop prosody that Jan obviously inherited. Phil Cousineau said about her last book: “Parrot Fever sounds like one of her bebopping, riffing word jags that endeared her to her friends.” She was aware of words and their sounds as she explored every detail of her world. Brenda Knight recalls, “Her prose is awash with layers of meaning and a matchless rhythm and flow.” By her friends’ accounts, she inherited the music/language gift. Lynn Kushel Archer recalls how she would do impressions of Aretha, The Doors, Billie Holliday, Patsy Cline and others that amazed listeners: “She could sing. I mean she could really sing!” And she observed people and places around her with the artist’s eye: “It was hard for her to maintain her independence with her illness, but she did. She would hobble to downtown San Anselmo to sit in a coffee shop and eat something delectable as she observed everybody and everything.” She was a true writer, but the times they had changed.

Jan Kerouac in vamp makeup, age 13- Lower East Side, New York City- at a time when she was working as a prostitute.

The old saying was that when New York City farted, San Francisco blushed, but no more. The Beats headed west to the city that would be built on rock-and-roll and had a far different mystique than the East Coast. Kids of eastern cities, bound in tradition, would feel the joy of getting their heads messed up, flocking to the city of freedom by the Bay. Jack Kerouac got on the road but couldn’t shift gears, so he found a driver who could. Neal Cassady learned to drive by stealing cars in Denver and griped to Jack Kerouac that Jack was ruining his transmission. The Beats struck gold in California. Ginsberg came howling about the evil spirits in government and money. Nakedness didn’t make a difference, but the local government was soon to make the Beats famous over the word fuck. How this happened with this overused word in today’s speech might puzzle the youth. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, publisher of Kerouac and Ginsberg, went to court to free fuck and this was covered extensively by the relics, Time and Life, the only news in town at the time. Allen Ginsberg, keen in marketing, appeared in one of his favorite venues, the court. Ferlinghetti, a lieutenant in World War II, instead of saying this was the way sailors talked, donned his beret and went to trial to publicize the Beat Generation. Tourists in North Beach would turn and point ... look, they were in Life!

But the Talibanish Beat Generation wouldn’t come to the rescue of the woman, Jan Kerouac. Godfather Ginsberg planned to get on the road himself to his new world of Aryan Wichita with his driver, Peter, in his Guggenhiemed VW bus and kept a good taunt going, howling into his Uher tape recorder Dylan had given him, “How big a prick has the president!” And I wondered, How big a prick has your guru? Later in D.C., I took him to the National Endowment for the Arts, where he wowed ‘em and got several thousands of dollars for him and his mate, Peter Orlovsky, and the Lower East Side poets who supported him. Ginsberg was learning just how good the government was going to be to him. He said the CIA needed a place to set up his guru. An accredited college would do! He and Anne Waldman, institutionally enlightened, named it after Kerouac, with a cute name I can never unscramble. Nicosia left Naropa when Trungpa, surrounded by his bodyguards, told the prostrate audience: “You will lap milk from the dish I give you like my little dog.”

Aram Saroyan recounts a meeting with the agitated authoritarian Allen Ginsberg at a book signing after mentioning Nicosia: “He was referring to my friend, Kerouac’s biographer, Gerald Nicosia, and while it was true I’d originally heard of Jan’s troubles from Gerry, he hadn’t had to coax my sympathy. Nicosia had in the meantime been organizing a fund raiser to help Jan with her medical bills and told me Allen had called friends like Gary Snyder and Michael McClure and discouraged their participation.”

And later about the Kerouac conference in Manhattan: “With some of the participants having a claim to be there far less valid than Jan Kerouac’s, she along with Gerry Nicosia were thrown out of the conference by campus police when she attempted to get on the podium and speak about her father’s archives.” Godfather Ginsberg got the Fuzz on her! Mary Emmerick recalls: “By June 5, 1995, Jan’s body had failed her. She was on dialysis four times a day ... It deeply hurt her that she had to write a check for $120 to NYU to attend a conference called ‘The Writings of Jack Kerouac’ honoring her father, and that her father’s friends turned their backs because she was contesting her grandmother’s will.” And later: “Outside and still crying Jan ripped off her-orange-and-white conference badge announcing THE WRITINGS OF JACK KEROUAC and underneath: JAN KEROUAC, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY. She threw it into the gutter debris.” I personally was happy to learn from this book that my dear friend, William S. Burroughs, who had said he never considered himself a Beat, gave one of his paintings to her for her cause. I could sympathize with her on that score. He gave us some of his paintings in Lawrence while we were traveling on limited funds. When we got home, we sold one over the phone sight unseen for $3,000. I’ll always remember his wisdom: “There are Johnsons and there are shits.”

Among the iconic photos in the book is one of Jan as a baby. It startled me to see Jack Kerouac’s face, as if it was super-imposed. As the elder Jacques Kirouac, the president of L’Association des Familles Kirouac of Quebec City, wrote: “After a few minutes, I met her, and I was immediately struck by her blue eyes, which were so shining they looked crystal.” Towards the end of her life he visits her again in her room with boxes and a mattress on the floor: “Amongst that mess, she was looking for pictures, and she gave me a wonderful one taken in a boat on the west coast of the United States. Though she had almost nothing, she offered me a loaf of bread that she had baked. It was too much for me, especially knowing she had so little food. So I took only half of it, but I was really impressed by that gift, which showed me how important it was to Jan to share with others.” A photo in the book depicts Anne Waldman sternly looking down from the podium at Jan and the elderly gentleman as they were blocked: “I was at her side when she stood up to walk toward the stage, intending to speak at the microphone. Her ‘godfather’ Allen Ginsberg was the master of ceremonies. Unfortunately, nervous and frail as she was, she didn’t reach the narrow staircase to the stage until her way was already blocked by the program director of NYU, Helen Kelly. Then the police escorted her and myself outside the hall to the sidewalk.”

Jan and Jacques Kirouac in Washington Square Park, NYC after being thrown out of NYU's JACK KEROUAC CONFERENCE June 5, 1995. Jan wears a t-shirt she had printed from the text of her father's (Jack Kerouac's) last letter (October 20, 1969) to Paul Blake, Jr., stating he (Jack) did not want the Sampas family to receive any of his estate.
Photo by Mary Emmerick

As Gerald Nicosia, editor of the book, later recalls that part of the story: “John Sampas was calling for the university police to arrest her, and Allen said, ‘Yes, take her out, she’s irrelevant.’ I stood up from the audience and started yelling at Allen: ‘Allen, you’ve got to let her speak! She’s Jack’s daughter!’ Sampas said, ‘Get rid of him, too!’... The day Jan was thrown out, June 5, 1995, was exactly one year before she died—June 5, 1996.” What is puzzling is why the pied piper of Whitman’s children turned religious Totalitarian and against freedom of speech? Was it because of the money and power invested in the academic elite? As Buddha (John Paul Pirolli) adds about the literary industry of Kerouac/Beats that was flourishing and Sampas was promoting: “He was going to let Ann Charters do the editing. In Jan’s eyes, this meant there would be censorship of her father’s writing, and that anything pertaining to Jack’s planned divorce from Stella (his last wife) or his bisexual experiences--among other things--would probably never see the light of day.” Let’s hope these travesties to American literature will eventually be reckoned with.

On a lighter side, one of Jan’s talents was as baker. Some recall her fabulous baking, and she dreamt of opening a little restaurant and pastry café in North Beach. There are some wonderful photos of her baking and serving pastries. But she never got any help. Godfather Ginsberg knew the numbers. She never got part of her father’s fortune in his estate. Not even a lousy state or federal grant. It all seemed political, an old ingrained American hatred for the poor. As she tells Gerald Nicosia in an interview: “Well it would be nice [to publish a successful book] after all these years of being on welfare and washing dishes. I wouldn’t mind a little money, and a change of pace. I’m sure I could find something to do with it. There are so many things that I want to do. If I had more resources, I could do more things. I could also help my mother out, who’s been in poverty for years and years and years and years. She’s been poorer than I have all this time. I’ve never had the experience like most young people, you know. Always going to their parents to borrow money and stuff. I haven’t the slightest idea how that is, because my mother has always been poorer than I am–and so when I come home, it’s like coming home to–I don’t even know how to describe it.” There would be no help from the literary establishment which is not about to recognize her writings. Lee Harris writes of the “Jack Kerouac Corporation of America. For that’s what it had become, an impenetrable monolith whose only purpose was to make money (and not for Jan). Worse, it had gained the complicity of Ginsberg, not only in sanitizing and embalming Jack’s legacy as part of the New York literary establishment, but in shutting Jan out of the process completely.”

John Cassady, son of Neal, the driver, who complained Jack Kerouac was ruining his transmission because he couldn’t use a clutch, writes about how he almost married Jan Kerouac. That would have probably happened if there was a third party who got them together again, or if he hadn’t taken her off guard. There is one iconic photo of the two of them. Sadly there wasn’t a wedding photo. I performed with John at the Bitter End in the Village and would have loved to be his best man. Here’s his account: “‘Think about it, Jan,’ I said with feeling, ‘it’s a no-brainer! You’re Jack’s daughter–I’m Neal’s son–and I’m sure they are looking down (sideways? up?) Smiling in approval!’ She looked a bit startled.” He saw her again some sixteen years later at the Spaghetti Factory and his first question to her was: “Do you remember me asking you to marry me that day?” He goes on: “To my surprise, she didn’t and seemed astonished that she couldn’t recall such an event, even from that long ago. I was mortified to hear her say, ‘Are you kidding? I would have married you in a heartbeat!’ Ouch!” Of all the tragedy, this hurts me the most. As the perfect movie script, it needed the few days of drama and then they meet again and conclude the scene in each other’s arms. As a romantic, this makes me cry. This is high tragedy and reminds me of the poem Pound’s distant relative, Longfellow, wrote about Hiawatha passing his lover unseen in a canoe or whatever it was. This existential ending where the two iconic children didn’t complete the script is the great tragedy for me. Why didn’t this end right?

In the “Editor’s Note,” Nicosia recalls a conversation with her asking what she thought her destiny would be: “Jan said, ‘My destiny is to be pulverized.’ I almost fell out of my chair. She was not joking that time. She was dead serious. She did not believe she would live long, and she felt she would be forgotten, dying unloved and unknown.” This country knows how to pulverize. Look around you. Sometimes it is in increments, unnoticed from the ground, like the vehicles crushing small animals on the road. Money can keep us from being pulverized. Even if it’s temporal, it gives us a chance--even if it involves knowingly pulverizing our ideas, our hopes, our loves, our creative spirit. Whether we lie prostrate at a guru’s feet or think we are unseen schmoozing, lying, politicizing, climbing on whatever will lift us from pulverization, we all succumb. Some get so caught up in avarice and greed they don’t want to admit what is happening. Recently, stock market derivatives fed that monster, far removed from real assets and with idiot complacency turning to Totalitarianism, Authoritarianism, threatening our very country, our culture. It’s the same psychology that accumulates, like a virus replicating, a derivative literature removed from real literature. We’ll never know how Jan would have fared without the derivative monsters at her door, ready to pulverize anything real. I think of that time in the 50's towards the end of the McCarthy hearings, when finally the senator faced Joseph McCarthy and asked intently: “Have you no decency?”

I see this incrementally too. I picked up the New Yorker a year or so ago and saw an article by Douglas Brinkley and someone, maybe co-authored. It had stupid photos of irrelevant green road signs of the wrong era. The only real photo it had was the famous one I told Allen to snap of Neal when we were riding in the backseat of his Pontiac with a torn headliner when he was downshifting without brakes on the way to Bolinas. Their version had it as Jack and someone in the backseat of his Hudson somewhere in the East. They had the wrong time, wrong place, wrong people, wrong car. If it was supposed to be a symbolic illustration, that was one thing, but they put the photo as an integral part of the article. Another increment came today when I looked up Naropa on Wikipedia and something caught my eye under controversy. It was Elliot Weinberger’s insight (warning) that Ginsberg’s and his friends’ “fascination with Trungpa’s presentation of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan theocracy created a dangerous exclusivity and elitism in literature.”

The treatment of Jan Kerouac by her famous literary peers might be an early sign of an academic elitism nourished by government and private monies to build committees and foundations to pulverize the individual spirit. Allen Ginsberg obviously succumbed. I can personally feel her oppression and have seen it in action in government funding of the academe. During the Republican era someone I knew heard a comment at the NEA: “They’ll publish what we tell them to.” We quit applying for publishing grants many years before that, but the money flowed to institutes to match any cost for poets to visit. I’m reminded of a C. K. Williams’ reading at Wichita University where I attended in the 50's. Apparently they flew him in from his regular Boston job to teach a course there. He told his captive audience of students and professors that “poetry is supposed to be boring.” I’m reminded of Jan because I was there to see my ailing mother and was short of funds. I see that the Poetry Foundation, a private organization that received millions of dollars as a gift, gave him a hundred thousand dollars. He is a full professor at Princeton, so he doesn’t need it, which suggests they want to follow in the totalitarian footsteps of the NEA, which doesn’t consider need, but only rules concerning “quality,” an elusive term defined by the persons in the position to pass the money to friends. I googled this Princeton poet to see what he was writing now and the example was what I expected ... pretentious reminiscences in Joycean prose with line breaks. They recently gave the Beat Generation’s Gary Snyder a hundred thousand dollars justifying it on his religious work. Not that they have to justify anything, but I don’t suppose they know that. To give it to a Baptist or a Muslim would not been politically correct at the moment. As an agnostic, I want mine! But there is something cruel about giving those large sums to those who don’t really need it, especially in these times. The last poet I knew personally, Dave Church, died a while back bent over the wheel of his taxi. Even private monies can’t consider love. Jan wrote from the love generation, but we’ll never see her unfinished works from a voice in the wilderness.

Jan Kerouac in Los Angeles, 1978
Photo by Marie-Andree Cossette.

The Poetry Foundation uses Pound as their mascot, but they probably don’t realize that he went to Europe to get away from the “pricks” of his day. Now who could that be? All the Beats grew up on Pound, who wrote: “But the beauty is not the madness/ Tho’ my errors and wrecks lie about me/ And I am not a demigod,/ I cannot make it cohere./ If love be not in the house there is nothing.” Jan was writing for the love generation. When will we learn? When will the foundations learn? Pound again: “Let him analyze the trick programs /and fake foundations.” I don’t know what happened to the Beat Generation. I see my name in “official” biographies like the one written by the librarian, Bill Morgan. Just leave my name out, please! I know City Lights published my novel and Ginsberg wrote an introduction to my first book of poems and he and Neal shared my flat in San Francisco, but I am not a Beat! Burroughs said he never considered himself a Beat. Like Jan, I have no use for the greed and avarice of liars, cheats, and politicians who keep all monies for themselves to pulverize those whose only power is their own. Please someone correct my Wikipedia entry! If you are going to label me, then give me some of your money! I know how Jan felt. Who denied her? The best minds ... the darkest minds?

To help understand the ruthlessness of money and power in literature, read Brad Parker’s account of him inviting Nicosia to Lowell in 1988, when the “official” Kerouac committee was planning to honor Jan’s dad: “Later I was stunned when one of the leaders of that committee tried verbal intimidation by telling me, via phone, that my plan had to change and that I should cooperate with him and his committee or I would become ‘a voice in the wilderness.’ Further, I was informed that they might find it necessary to play ‘hardball’ with me, and the hall I had reserved for Nicosia would be taken away from my organization.” This is indicative of an academic elite establishment that has sought to control literature today. I hope the voices in the wilderness take heed. Those voices are where real literature comes from. It is the voice Brad Parker heard: “In her last taped interview, Jan said that the only possession of her father’s that she owned was his DNA. Those who controlled Jack’s estate had given her nothing that had been his.” Brenda Knight recalls some young men gazing upon the photos of Jan, invariably speaking of her in the present tense, “Where is she? Let’s go find her!” Yes! She’s still out there, driving her stick-shift Caddie Matilda, if we just have the eyes to look.

Front Cover of "Jan Kerouac: A Life in Memory"

Beat Me with My Own eyes

Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg, Whalen, Burroughs 1978

Neal in Colorado
Ginsberg, Huncke, Cartwright 1975 NYC
Jack's Original Notebook with "On the Road" scribbles

Allen, Corso, Ed Freeman, Orlovsky in Paris 1956

Allen and Joe Strummer 1981

WSB Lighting a Smoke

William S. Burroughs

Allen Ginsberg, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones 1981

WSB Boarding a Train

At City Lights




Ezra Pound and Allen Ginsberg, 1967

Herbert Huncke in NYC

The "HOWL" Trial

Ginsberg in College

William S Burroughs in Tangiers

Neal and Allen

Jack Kerouac in Italy

Huncke at Cherry Valley

From an old Letter from ferlinghetti

Old Card from Ferlinghetti

Photo from the Trial in San Fran

Taken at the Famous 'Howl" Trial
1945 Photo Booth Pic of Ginsberg

Man Ray, Orlovsky, Ginsberg 1971 in Paris

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)

Collage by Ginger K Eades

Call Me Burroughs

  1. Bradley The Buyer
  2. Meeting Of International Conference Of Technological Psychiatry
  3. The Fish Poison Con
  4. Thing Police Keep All Board Room Reports
  5. Mr. Bradley Mr. Martin Hear Us Through The Hole In Thin Air
  6. Where You BelongÊ(Rewrite)
  7. Inflexible Authority
  8. Uranian Willy (Rewrite)


Reissue producers: James Grauerholz, James Austin.
Recorded at the English Bookshop, Paris, France in 1965. Originally released on ESP-Disk (1050). Includes liner notes by Emmett Williams, Jean-Jacques Label, Barry Alfonso and Barry Miles.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.

Originally released in 1965, this spoken word record was the first foray into the recording industry by Beat legend William S. Burroughs. Subsequently Burroughs recorded a number of solo projects, in addition to collaborating with everyone from John Cale and Laurie Anderson to Tom Waits and Kurt Cobain. The CD booklet contains a wealth of information about Burroughs, the manner in which these recordings were made, and about the Beat community in Paris in the 50's and 60's, as well as including the liner notes of original 1965 edition of the album.

    This collection features excerpts from three novels, NAKED LUNCH, SOFT MACHINE, and NOVA EXPRESS. The excerpts--which, read as short stories, are independent and do not require listener to be familiar with the novels--follow the exploits of junkies, prostitutes, doctors, and others as they move through grisly underworlds without concern for the borders between reality and hallucination. By turns, they are blackly funny and deeply sinister, often within the same piece. Delivered in an instantly recognizable, craggy and clipped mid-western drawl, CALL ME BURROUGHS gives these words a voice that will reverberate for listeners wherever Burroughs' name is mentioned.

from Singer Saints blog:
The "frogman" Charles M. Bogert's jaunty midwestern tones inevitably suggest the native american strains of William Burroughs reading from NAKED LUNCH and NOVA EXPRESS, captured for posterity in Paris in 1965 and released on - you guessed it - ESP-Disk. This recording remains the perfect introduction to the world of William Burroughs. What had previously been an avant-garde experiment on the page - the notorious "cut-ups" - is magically transformed by that familiar sepulchral yet amazingly flexible voice into vivid characterizations, hilarious routines, surreal poetry and a surprising poignancy, a nostalgic quality never entirely absent from Uncle Bill's reminiscences. 

Collage by Ginger K Eades

Breakthrough in the Grey Room

1. K-9 Was in Combat with the Alien Mind-Screens (13:29)

Early cut-up of tapes made by Ian Sommerville and WSB around 1965, probably in New York and London.

2. Origin and Theory of the Tape Cut-Ups (3:43)

From a lecture given by WSB at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute, April 20, 1976.

3. Recalling All Active Agents (1:25)

Excerpt from tape made in 1960 by Brion Gysin at BBC Studios in London, using BG's permutational technique.

4. Silver Smoke of Dreams

Tape made in early 1960s by Ian Sommerville and WSB, using the "drop-in" method.

5. Junk Relations (2:56)

Excerpt from a radio talk by WSB in 1961 in London. "A Day in the Life of a Junkie." Tape courtesy of the University of Kansas Libraries.

6. Jojuka (1:30)

Excerpt from live tape made by WSB at the Jojuka Fetival in the hills of Morocco with Ornette Coleman, Jan. 18, 1973.

7. Curse Go Back (1:12)

From early 1960s tape, WSB chanting an anti-curse.

8. Present Time Exercises (2:18)

Casette work by WSB in London, ca. 1971, using radio, television, several tape recorders.

9. Jojuka (0:42)

10. Working with the Popular Forces

WSB cut-ups with Dutch Schultz's last words and news texts, shortwave radio noise. Mid '60s, London

11. Interview with Mr. Martin (2:59)

Excerpt from WSB performance at the ICA in London, Feb. 28, 1963.

12. Jojuka (1:26)

13. Sound Piece (2:14)

Produced by Ian Somerville using the inching technique, 1960s?

14. Jojuka (2:39)

15. Burroughs Called the Law (1:34)

WSB routine recorded mid-1960s - dropping a dime on the Nova Mob.

William S. Burroughs - Various Tracks

16. from Naked Lunch (1977)

17. from "The Wild Boys" (1974)

18. What Washington, What Orders (1974)

19. Keynote Commentary / Roosevelt After Inauguration (1978)

20. Benway (1978)

21. from The Gay Gun: This is Kim Carson / Just Like The Collapse of any Currency / The Whole Tamale (1978)

22. What the Nova Convention is About (1978)

23. Conversations | William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Timothy Leary, Les Levine, and Robert Anton Wilson (1978)

24. When Did I Stop Wanting to be President (1975)

25. "This, gentlemen, is a death dwarf..." (1965)

26. "Mister Bradley Mister Martin..." (1965)

27. William S. Burroughs - Introducing John Stanley Hart; He Entered the Bar with the Best of Intentions

28. William S. Burroughs - Twilight's Last Gleamings

29. William S. Burroughs - By Protagonist Kim Carson

30. William S. Burroughs - The Do Rights

31. William S. Burroughs - Salt Chunk Mary; Like Mr. Hart, Kim Has a Dark Side to His Character

32. William S. Burroughs - Progressive Education

33. William S. Burroughs - The Wild Fruits

34. William S. Burroughs - The Unworthy Vessel

35. William S. Burroughs - Excerpts from The Western Land: The President, Colonel Bradford, Everyman a God

36. William S. Burroughs - "Dinosaurs"

37.William S. Burroughs - "The Chief Smiles" from The Wild Boys (1974, 6:50)

38. William S. Burroughs - The Green Nun" from The Wild Boys (1974, 3:32)

39.William S. Burroughs - excerpt from "Ah Pook Is Here" (1975, 12:00)

40.William S. Burroughs - excerpt from "Cities Of The Red Night" (1975, 10:00)

41. William S. Burroughs - excerpt from "103rd Street Boys" from Junkie" (1975, 7:29)

42. William S. Burroughs - excerpt from "Naked Lunch" (1975, 20:28)

43. William S. Burroughs - "From Here To Eternity" from Exterminator (1974, 3:40)

Tracks 1-15 From the CD Break Through in Grey Room (Sub Rosa CD006-8)

Track 16, 2:14, St. Marks Chruch, NYC, April 9, 1977, from the LP Dial-A-Poem Poets Big Ego

Track 17, 8:20, 6:53, Recorded Duke Street, London, Nov. 19, 1971, from the LP Dial-A-Poem Poets

Track 18, recorded GPS, April 1, 1974, from the LP Dial-A-Poem Poets Disconnnected

Tracks 19-23, recorded at the Nova Convention, NYC, 1978 from the LP The 

Nova Convention

During the 1960s, William Burroughs was in Europe and England. The Vietnam War, the Cultural Revolution, hippies and the acid gospel, the U S. in tumult, all these were dispatches to him. Living between Paris and London, his only excursions to America were in 1965, when he lived for a year in New York at the Chelsea Hotel and 210 Centre Street, and revisited St, Louis and Palm Beach; and in 1968, when he covered the Democratic Convention in Chicago for Esquire in the company of Genet, Southern and Seaver. Burroughs had quit the States in 1953 exactly because he foresaw these police-state conditions.

But now the wild boys were in the streets, in London and Paris too, and Burroughs was inspired to hope that the world could really change. In the creative world-switchboard of the Beat Hotel, in various London hotels, in a house in the Arab Quarter of Tangier, he experimented with tape recordings, hoping to cut the pre-recorded time line of pre-sent time, and let the future leak through.

Many of these tapes are as much Ian Sommerville's work as Burroughs or even more. Ian's technical background enabled him to contribute to the early development of sound-and-light shows in London, and at one point he worked in a studio furnished by Paul McCartney.

Ian was a sorcerer's apprentice, and the other sorcerer was the late Brion Gysin. The development of all the early cut-up techniques was a pure collaboration between Gysin and Burroughs. It was Brion who led the way on a crusade to rub out the word, and with Antony Blach the cut-up was applied to film, in Towers Open Fire, The Cut-Ups, and Ghosts at No. 9.

It is a long way back to the 1960s and sometimes hard to remember the sense of urgency and revolution then, of danger and discovery, that informed the literature of opposition. That there is now, in 2001, a market for these archival materials shows that this work was seminal, even though it has been little distributed until recent years.