TRIBUTE TO WE JAM ECONO by Charles Plymell (2007/08)

 TRIBUTE TO WE JAM ECONO, an original moment in time, man!
Charles Plymell

From the jump, even their name is ambiguous. Fine. In heavy scholarship ambiguity is a key to lasting art. Was the name denotative of small, short, revolutionary, or what? In physics a minute is often used in the span of time to bring scale...and the minutemen? Bacon, Goethe, and Emerson, or whoever said, "Art is long, Life is short, Judgement difficult, Opportunity transient." Could the answer be found in San Pedro High School? From the moment D. Boone jumped out of a tree in front of Mike Watt, the opportunity for kids on the block came true. Like all lasting art, it happened in what Sheldrake postulated as Morphic Resonance: In the universe a time for unrelated things comes together seemingly unbeknownst to each. We saw it in the 50's with Jackson Pollack, Crick and Watson, chaos theory, atomic fusion, Stravinsky, Kandinsky, and on and on. Most groups or performers evolve from roots. Wild Jerry Lee had kids off their feet and shaking from spirituals and gospel as did Elvis, Little Richard, Ray Charles and all kids. Their influences and originators (e.g. Lightnin Hopkins) sparked embers in race music to rhythm and blues, to rock 'n roll. The early stuff lay latent in working class houses in Liverpool to be cool and whip back around to ignite again. All music is spirit interwoven, languishing in memories to take the stage again: Woody Guthrie to Dylan, traditional folk music of the 20's and 30's to the same tunes with new words in the poetry of a Chuck Berry, of all blues with each variation and a style. It happened in jazz with big historical happenings along the way. Norman Granz once assembled them all, with influential inventors who were so different as to offend the traditions; for example, Louis Armstrong was offended by Bebop, something very odd and different, hence his satirical Whiffenpoof song. It happened in country too, inventors like Jimmy Rogers, the singing brakeman and the Honk-Tonk men, Hank Williams and George Jones drifted to Buck Owens, Bennies, Bakersfield, the driver wheel of the 219 keeping the beat while tossing seeds forever sown by the Minutemen or Lee Ranaldo. Offshoots in the field of bluegrass grew: Bill Monroe, and eddies of Arnold whorls emerged in the greater flow.

Chili Peppers, Minutemen, R.E.M. In the "old" days says Mike, the famous Punk bands of the day weren't accessible and the kids were kept in their place. So they made their own; that's why all new art emerges, gesturing out the window of the econo as his lectern "...nowadays you're only kept in your place by your mind." "Make it New," Ezra Pound. As Byron Coley reminded us, the music of the Minutemen was hard to classify. He could slip them in anywhere. That's also a sign of originality...defying labels, and in a recursive language analogy that would delight philosophers, Byron likened the beat to a noun with no adjectives or adverbs. Mike Watt's signature line, percussionistic, impressionistic, like an ancient music in Japanese Kabuki theater, minimalistic, morphed into the art of today, his bass lines identifying, while Hurley's drumming is "with", Grant Hart gestures, the central core of the musical sphere they are spinning.

In the brilliant we jam.... their paranoid chants, blowing out the songs, all screaming together excited the Alabama wildman, Thurston Moore. Famous groups of the day, like Chili Peppers, Black Fag, Kennedies, and many more poets and artists all pay tribute to The Minutemen. And if you want a mini-lecture bouncing in the air like the old sing- along-ball, try "Definitions" by D. Boone. Materialism: six points of view. 50 thousand words, 50 thousand translations...Idealism. Get it? Got it! Good. The ancient jazz man retort. The kids from the street took on the attributes of the outlaws even in a broader literary context. Michel C. Ford adamantly warns them about the pitfalls of a government rewarding the frauds in the academic workshops and literary cliques who sit on panels and reward their friends with substantial public funds to maintain their own audience while destroying poetry in the process. Those who criticize the system of cronyism are forever blacklisted. I understand his point and have "friends" who send me their books listing credit of state and federal "awards" totaling tens of thousands of dollars. The United Gulag of Amerikan Arts. They usually inscribe them to me as "first teacher" or other pufferies and then ask for endorsements. I throw them in trash. While fetish poetry readings in art orgs./ academic workshops and fillers for The New Yorker and Poetry Magazine numb audiences who patronize each other with cheese and wine.
New music had to relentlessly earn its pay while poetry hid in academe and arts scams.

The Minutemen earned their praise and stage from other famous groups who also saw the fusion of original lyrics and poetry . It was at a poetry reading performance that Grant Hart introduced me to Mike Watt, and then Grant made sure I received we jam econo in the spirit in which worthwhile art is slipped from crafty imitations and commercial trot. I was hooked by the video and viewed it with my kids during the holidays, 07-08. I had missed some groups in the 80's. Not being a musician, I couldn't detect many direct influences of the Minutemen but could identify their time, their ethos, their moment of opportunity. I can easily identify with the working class, those who are willing to stand up and make a change, take risks, "make it new," the words of Ezra Pound's poetry were read to me by the fellow hipster of the '50's, Robert Branaman, who coined the expression, "lounge lizard" for high school drop outs who went from bar in their modified zoots, duck tails haircuts and Benzedrine. They called us punks, rebels, non-conformists, goofs, petty criminals. It was the poses in Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild One that eventually became the rebellious street kid's skateboard, their ethos (or bathos depending on who's calling whom a poser), the language of social awareness ironically emerging as a shout from the stage, comically from three posers... to the point of almost ritualistic behavior...the spitting and medieval taunting to the bellicous band an the spit, an interesting byproduct of the performance in extreme. The bodies would start bumping and jumping and spitting when the music began and stopped when the music stopped. It was strong ritualistic affinity that exceeded the behavior of boppers to Jerry Lee, pounced somewhere between the Lindy hop and rope a dope, left its mark of phenomenal performances on the decade.

For eighteen year olds in the beginning of the 80's music and even skateboarding was a better choice than getting in trouble. And there was lots of trouble. It was a strange decade. We moved to the D.C., area to find jobs. We saw the company town change from the peach pickers from Georgia to the ruthless monied legions of blue blazers and khakis and cowboy hats from California money rancheros, ruthless and greedy. Chevy Blazers with bumper stickers "Neutralize Mondale." I think it was the time schools in California were on the decline, worse than today. In D.C. we would go to "chili parties" of the upscale shakers and movers of the day-names of companies so recognizable that it would be shocking to mention. The town was writhing in hypocrisy. At some of the parties I would see the young money lions motion to guide me away from the lines of coke being sniffed, guided by such polite Republicans to other rooms from the smell of pot. They assumed I was too old to approve of such things. It was in this milieu that we raised our kids in Silver Spring, Md.

Herbert Huncke, the Grandfather of the Beats came to visit. We read with Taylor Meade in a bar in Baltimore and in D.C. Ray Bremser and I read at the 9:30 Club, a very happening punk place. It is there that I was standing smoking next to a big guy who wasn't necessarily hostile but had an attitude and looked down at my shoes oddly stepping on my toe and twisting his foot like putting out a butt. He was punk and punks were performing that night, and his shoes were very odd-like slippers. Was this D. Boone? In the video I saw his shoes, completely out of character, especially for a punk who floated when he bounced. If it were he, it wouldn't be the first time shoes played a part in song. Someone wouldn't get off Lightnin' Hopkin's toe and he worked the incident into a song he was singing that became a title. Carl Perkins heard someone in the crowd yell to a dance partner, better not step on my blue suede shoes, and Perkins wrote it down on the spot. I had a pair of blue suedes in that era, but I think I was wearing wingtips outside the 9:30 Club that night of an historical mirage of truth.

Certainly the "charlatanism" of D. Boone was preferable to the stupidity of teachers. (I thought of some friends in S.F. who named their group, The Charlatans.) D. Boone, by his impressionistic song phrases, much like the cut-up method of Burroughs, was creating works that would have been the envy of French Dada. Ack, Ack, Ack is a good example. Incredible didacticdada! Probably came from playing guns behind a tree; the innocence of kids becoming unique creations, probably more difficult as one grows old, "Absolute Truth/with its Absolute Faults." The imagist messages in their songs seemed like both impressionistic and expressionistic on stage, bits of Pollack's kinetic energy for sure varying from Dada to cut-up, free association, Surrealism, twisted together in bits and pieces of information. In the 50's, Annie Ross would have said she was crazy on the double-decker bus because there was no driver on top, and her scat would take us to the farmer's market to buy string beans, green beans, lima beans all kinds of beans... the bong of her time. The messages of The Minutemen where more deeply imbedded: "Little Man With a Gun in Your Hand" could have been the theme song for the William Reich movement in psychology in this country. Deeper meanings are abundant in the hidden symbolisms that compelled an audience who sensed something was happening even if they had to spit at it. I would still have to examine the lyrics to find out what exactly the "propaganda songs" of Dylan were. Maybe when he was singing to the Black cotton pickers? And McCarthy was enough to be paranoid about. I remember cruising Main St. in my '52 Chevy listening to the hearings not knowing quite what it was about until the documentaries decades later. The Minutemen were Futurists, Punk Rimbaud "avant garage" symbolists. Absolute Truth with its Absolute Faults was very profound from whoever said it during a time when California education was sliding to the bottom. I recall a saying from the revolushun in the 60's "We are the future and can't be stopped." To use the old Sinatra cliché, they did it their way.
I have listened to all kinds of music for many years. I began singing the Hank Williams radio theme song when I was out in a Kansas fields over seventy years ago. I could see both my mother and father in the distance plowing while I sat in the International truck singing as loud as I could to the coyotes, rattlesnakes and prairie dogs: "I'm just a happy rovin cowboy/ herding the dark clouds out of the sky/ deep in the heavens blue." Recently, I went to a Hank III concert in Rochester with my family where he pressed the pedal to the heavy metal. I could have told him he looked exactly like his Grandfather, the genuis performer in the 50's and that his song "Blue Devil" is up there with his Grandpappy's best. I also predicted long ago that a song by George Jones would be an all-time great and it was honored on PBS not long ago. I listened to traditional music in the 40's. In the 70's when I gave a poetry reading in Boston, the young organizer was eager to play me his latest find: Willie Nelson's "Blue eyes Crying..." I said yeah, my mother used to sing that to me. He looked puzzled. I like Willie and he was right to bring back the traditional songs. I have the Roy Acuff version my mother listened to. I cruised L.A. in my '52 Chevy up and down Central where Norman Granz put all the big jazz names together; Oscar Peterson, Illinois Jacquet, Buddy Rich, all of them and in Kansas City they played with the locals, Charley Parker and Jay McShann. I remember driving my '49 Pontiac from K.C. to Joplin. Mo listening to Hank Ballard and the Midnighter's "Work With Me Annie" on a race station out of Arkansas. I saw Fats Domino across the tracks play his Cajun songs I can't find anymore. Chuck Willis was on the jukebox at Mrs. Dunbar's barbeque. A dollar cover would get you in to hear Sonny Rollins. Ike Turner played music for a company selling Westinghouse appliances. Elvis came to town. He would have been my age today. I drove to work building the dam on the Columbia River in a '49 Merc like James Dean drove in "Rebel" listening to Johnny Ace sing "Clock on the Wall."

In the sixties a guy runs in where I'm printing Robert Crumb's first Zap. Hey, I'm managing a new band with a funny name: Pink Floyd. Someone called from City Lights Bookstore and said we had two complimentary tickets at the Fillmore to see Janis Joplin and Big Brother and we were too stoned to walk five blocks. That was the pad where Ginsberg and Cassady lived with me. Ginsberg heard me playing Schubert's String Quartet that Branaman played on smack one time and I heard the most beautiful passages in music. I put on Blowing in the Wind and asked Ginsberg if he ever heard this kid's songs. No. He looked at the cover: Bob Dylan. Hmm. No. He hadn't. Branaman was in Wichita jail with me in the 50's getting nose inhalers from the guard. Years later, he appeared as the artist in the opening of the Doors movie on Venice Beach hawking his paintings. So I listened to Motown, Sly, then Disco. The Hot Chocolates while moving down to Baltimore. Do you believe in Miracles? My daughter bought Cindy Lauper, early Springsteen. We also lived near Ashbury Park for a while. I like his poetry about him and his buddy building a hot rod straight out of scratch behind the 7-11 store. I listened. I listened through the decades. I listened driving cross country. I listened moving to new places. I listened.

The 80's came and went. Now my kids watch we jam econo with me today after seventy-two years of my riding and listening. I got hooked on the video. We talked about "Corona" a beautiful song with a little marachi in it and almost long enough to establish a sentimentality. We talked about Hurly in connection with Krupa who first busted out with his six minute classic solo,Sing Sing Sing that pissed off Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall. Jeff Palmer the B3 man lives around at the corner down James Carr's dark end of the street . He has a photo of himself as a kid with Krupa standing behind him with his hands on his shoulders. We sit and smoke and listen to the B3, and all those he played with: Jay McShann, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Brother Jack McDuff. The B3 is the church he say. He could always play in Black clubs, as he pulls out an old lp of James Brown, forgotten that he filled two sides with instrumental only.

My son and I laugh about the interview at Bard and the unanswerable questions of the "hip" student or professor filming the interview. It reminds me of Paul Bley who came by telling how he brought Parker to NYC for the first time. A lot of first times with Paul, scanning the index of his book: Baker, Coleman, Coltrane, Eckstine, Ellington, Giuffre. Flipping to the 'P's, Parker, Peterson, Powell...onto Rollins. There's a story for each. Then I ask, hey Paul, why do you commute to Europe for gigs, surely there are colleges around. I mean Giuffre's at Bard and Julliard. He could get you gigs. Ahhh, he says. Jazz went to Europe. I go every year to the same gigs in great cities. It's like going home. The guy knows me. He has the bread in his hands, the substance, everything taken care of. Here at colleges I have to meet a new person each year who is over the activities, go jogging with him, throw frisbies, and wait for my bread. And the audience? They may be there or not. In Europe, they are always there. Then I think of seeing Bo Diddley in the 50's across the track plying the Mogen David circuit. A dollar at the door. Then I see him at the Avalon in the '60s when the psychedelic scene had crowded the club with strobe lights and stoned Hippies. It was near where we live, so we went. A handful of Hippies who didn't know what to expect. He said and here I am now, playing for you. Mercy, mercy. When some of the new arrivals from NYC come over, they always talk about NYC real estate and never go outside when they come to the country. I put on my Norman Granz Jazz at the Philharmonic set and show them the cover expectantly. Haven't you heard of these musicians. They hadn't. They missed out.
Mike Watt Photo That Was Edited by Ginger
Back to watching we jam econo. I read somewhere about it that anyone who listens to music would want to hear this. My son says these were the groups I tried to get you to listen to in the 80's when he was a kid. Oh yeah, I said: must have been the ones I was jumping around to while driving and you kids ducked down in the car in order not to be embarrassed! I wasn't going to be upstaged. We watched the brilliant video of "King of the Hill" that can only be a California romp way ahead of its time and the videos and reality shows of today. There has always been an difference between east coast and west coast tastes. Someone just happened to have picked up on the famous romp, King of the Hill and put it in the L.A. Times Arts Weekend section bumping Madonna and Springsteen. Ahhh the headlights were on! Coincidentally, Mike had just emailed me about the weekend page in the New York Times the timid wasps upstate must have their coffee and bagels with. It was about Bukowski and a terrible put down of the man and his work based on his ugliness. I received lots of emails concerning the article. It was bathos. Blew away anything anyone would call literary discourse... embarrassing. It was a shameless attempt for the writer to draw attention to himself by tying himself to Bukowski's shoestrings. I had seen this happen before and advised everyone that the writer was desperate for attention and not to acknowledge him or he will stick like glue. The only thing right for him would be Bukowski's right hook. When Grant Hart introduced me to Mike Watt the train was running again. I'd been waiting at the station for a while but always listening. Sometimes the artist fades, sometimes the audience fades. Sometimes the phoneys see their opening and try to take over. Rimbaud said While public funds evaporate in feasts of fraternity, a bell of rosy fire rings in the clouds. Sometimes real and great talent gets tromped and commercial shit, real shit takes over and dictates tastes. What's happenin' man, nathan shakin.' Grant sent me we jam econo. My son came home for the holidays, and my daughter put it on the TV. My son said hey, these are one of the groups I was trying to get you to listen to in the 80's. Oh yeah, those old boxes of cassettes that were in your bedroom? Hey let's see that video again. We jam econo? Hooked! Kids came through.

SPEW ALLEY by Charles Plymell

(for uncle Bill)
By Charles Plymell
Some people just can't take the notion that millions of micro tadpole spitfire germs can swim into quiff and get only one hit on the egg, and that becomes us. That wham alone is enough to make one wonder just how come. The chance is as unfathomable as the lottery, the Big Bang, but these little holers make a person. That alone would be enough to spend a lifetime anguishing just how the easiest and most natural bit of stuff in the world turns into another body complete with its own mind.
And if we just thought of that little mouse hunt and what came from it, we might as well be taken to a padded cell and try to punch our way out of it like some Turet. But then to develop a language, the next most incomprehensible worthless discovery tha t can express a body! And then it forms itself in a society, learns to make change at the market and learns to compete against the million of other bodies out there, in order not to appear as random as some lone germ, for a germ without a purpose is jus t another germ, so a body has to pick and choose its social structure, if it's lucky, or be cast into some lot to task itself out to nether end. The best thing of course, is to invent, discover, be a rock star, make money to occupy one's time.
That would be quite enough for a body not to think about the basic reporters' questions too often as applied to the ultimate abstraction. It is distraction that we must have. Escape, anything to ease the pain of the awareness that swells up and won't go away sometimes, like asking what am I doing here, someday I won't be here, what was this, where will I be and what did I know, etc. It is not considered a real pain of course, like a broken bone, so it has to be considered a mental pain, and drugs that can help it are confused, so the whole reality of it becomes ever more convoluted and ends as everything, in the social body that prevents any attempt at understanding because usually it is not in economic demand. The drift is always to the physical, t he tangible, the salable, which uses up the body in disaster. This portends the future for the larger body as well.
Even if a body's purpose was pretty well programmed and adjusted to the selections (religious, political, social) confines of its time, there is the larger purpose that might seep through those confines and wrinkle the whole thing at any given moment. T hat is also not considered painful, but a condition of life.

Some think the body, oneself, the person next door, et. al. is a cancer that ultimately destroys its host. In this case, we have the planet earth which is showing signs of regurgitating, just like those bodies who took the time to reflect--prophesied. T here are ones who say this is just like all the rest of time and nothing happened before; these are usually the ones comfortable in their own social, religious, economic structures and have taken their fate the same as their nicely-mown lawn which my ne ighbor is doing now on his little tractor. He is making his own pollution as he goes, his pastime deadening his brain cells as he burns the products of a large cartel. He has a flag that symbolizes his freedom (and the cartels) hanging from his garage. He and his society would not see themselves as a cancer, and their pain is usually relieved by Advil or whatever is advertised on television to keep one of the largest financial cartels in business, serving the needs of the society ! of l awns.
People don't like to see themselves as a cancer, or a virus, even though if we condense history to repetition of specie activity, we come up with the same story, the same actions, usually in the form of religion and politics, to administer an over-purpo se, or medication in event the individual purpose goes awry. This isn't classified as pain, because it doesn't have the clinical appearance of eating one away. But there is no cure for it. In the religious worlds, it might be assigned to the devil, but in reality, the devil is just like the Ebola, which erupts all organs in blood and bile through all orifices. In the larger world, with all the ports of entry, such gruesomeness is not seen. And our thinking, our math, our best minds of a generation, if you will, gave us the end in a far less gruesome fashion. We don't see it happening, and all of industry, even the internal combustion engine adds to the whole demise.

The symptoms are decay, the individual's actions, daily, which show brain deterioration. More and more people wonder, and say there must be a reason for what's happening. Cumulatively, the state of affairs for the species has never before looked quite a s grim. And given the fact that we've recorded almost 50,000 wars, and our best minds came up with the weapon to "end all wars," sure, because it is THE end war (freak logic if I ever saw it) commensurate with the whole premise. Still, poetically, when the latex fills the pod under the hologram of the western sunset, the doctor will have legitimate patients to tend. And what if it does end in our lifetime? Sit at show window. It's academic. It is said when lightening strikes that one's hands become cl ammy, one's hair stands on end, and one has three seconds to lie on the ground in a fetal position; that's enough religion for me.

© 1996 by Charles Plymell
Original GRIST On-Line publication
This page edited by Robert Bové

Bondage and Butterflies

Bondage and Butterflies
By Lee Padgett

Divorce sucks.  High heals suck. Getting old sucks.  Love sucks, but sometimes that kind of sucking is a good thing.  For Angela most things suck, or they seem to suck for her.  Her Facebook status is full of how bad things are.  She has a brain fever one week. Her daughter gets cut taking out the garbage.  Her first husband turned out to be gay.  She falls in high heals and rips every ligament in her body.  She looks good though and everyone can see that she needs attention.  She and her second husband are ending their 10 year marriage, because, according to her, he is too negative. OK. She started dating a guy that everyone calls Zah Zah.  What kind of name is that? It sounds like candy. Maybe he is candy.  This could be good, right?  I decide to ask her if he is sweet.  She tells me that he is wonderful. That he treats her so great and the lovemaking is wonderful (think sing song voice here). He owns a porn shop and buys her the greatest outfits!  Wait. Porn shop?  Outfits?  Who is this Zah Zah guy?  Turns out, he really owns a porn shop.  He dresses her up like a schoolgirl and they had mad sex.  Mad?  She will tell me later what she means by "mad".  The kid is in the next room. I don't think I want to know. 

I have known this lady a long time.  When she was definitely not a lady. I have seen her through fat clothes and skinny clothes. I know her biggest fear.  No one knows mine, not even me.  Hers is a doozy. She is scared of butterflies. Angela was locked outside during a monarch swarm!  It was terrifying for her.  I try to sympathize; I really do, but swarming butterflies!  I think I would strip and let their delicate wings kiss me all over!  Not Angela, no way. She swears they were trying to suck out her brains.  I keep trying to imagine little zombie butterflies.  It is tough.  No sympathy.  

Angela calls just as I am ready to start the going to bed process. As I get older, that process gets longer and more expensive. She calls to talk about the love of her life.  The man who we all have to accept, because he is her soul mate.  She has his rib.  He is the one.  I figure the sex must be pretty good, so I decide to get a glass a wine and turn on a porno, from Zah Zah's.  I may as well have some visuals.  She goes on and on about how he let her wear his dead mother's fur to a big fancy event.  Small business owners go to these kinds of things she says. It is for charity and he has to make his appearances for his charity blah blah. He owns a porn store!  He is not a florist.  Then she starts talking about the sex. Now I am engaged again.  New relationship sex is fantastic, right?  He likes to bind her up.  And then what.  Well, he is allergic to Viagra.  So what? He licks her ear with biggest tongue! Oh.  And he is the one?  The porn shop owner who can't get it up?  That is ironic.  Major irony.  Didn't she say the sex was MAD?  Why because she is pissed that there is no sex?  There used to be sex, but now he is impotent.  How long have you guys been doing this?  6 weeks.  He just became impotent?  And he is allergic to Viagra.  Why is he binding you up?  It is just who he is and he likes it.  Don't you feel like a caterpillar?  All-snug in your cocoon, ready to be a butterfly?  There I said it. Butterfly!  

The conversation ended with some yelling and name-calling. I was done with this whole thing!  I had to get back to the porno; there was a lady on the screen with a butterfly tattoo on her ass. Her FB status was about jealous people who just wanted to hurt her.  He is not allergic to Viagra, there are no zombie butterflies, and life is pretty good if you just look up instead of down.  He is fucking someone else.  Really this is just going to drive me insane.  

Life goes by with out a hitch for a while and I see Angela out on the town one night. It was awkward, but I walked over and said hello. She was a little glossy eyed; I figured it was the pitcher of margaritas that was empty in front of her.  I did the I'm sorry thing and mumbled something.  She acted like I was high.  Don't you remember our last conversation?  She was clueless. She took me over to meet Zah Zah. Oh, yes, hello. I am a patron of your store.  Nice selection of lesbian pirates.  He asked if I liked the bondage section.  Pardon?  I am not really a bondage type person.  I don't need to be put in a cocoon to get off.  He liked that.  I looked over and Angela was dipping her long curly tongue into a potted plant.  Whoa. What was in that last drink?  You OK girl?

Zah Zah takes me by the arm and leads me outside to the tiki porch.  His facial features look less human, than they did in the bar.  His jacket seems to have some orange in it that I didn't pick up before.  He says that Angela is fine. She is pregnant, that is all. Oh. Pregnancy makes you have a long, curly BUTTERFLY tongue to suck up dirt?  What the fuck?  It was the swarm.  The swarm really happened.  Is he a butterfly?  A six-foot tall, blonde, porn store owning butterflies?  Why don't we sit down over by those flowers?  Angela is on her way out. It is time to give birth!  She came out.  Her eyes looked like liquid.  She didn't look at me.  Zah Zah's coat unfolded into huge wings!  Very impressive.  Could I fly him like Pegasus?  Who are all these, well, not people, but aliens maybe?  Yes, Zah Zah says, we are aliens.  They picked Angela out one hot day. They were all particularly horny and they noticed this young girl all alone and looking a bit down.  They decided to try and brighten her day with a little alien, butterfly sex.  They were pretty new to Earth and needed a little strange.  She thought they were sucking her brains, but they were really fucking her brains out.  This should have just been a good time, a one-time thing, no one would get hurt.  But, as luck would have it, no one had a good condom and Zah Zah cracked a nut in Angela's head.  All those negative thoughts she has had all these years, all those bad things that people said were all in her head, really they were all in her head. Zah Zah's alien babies were feasting on her from the inside out.  Alien, butterfly babies take a long time to hatch, so Zah Zah set up shop in this little town to be a good Dad for his kids.  He was going to be there for the birth and raise those kids up right!  Besides, making money off humans was pretty easy. Porn sells.  He had watched Angela for years.  And now the day had arrived for the bouncing baby butterflies to emerge from their brainy goo.  For that was all that was left. Just goo and babies.  Angela was just a shell.  She made an awesome Mom!  She gave it all up for her 250k kids.  How many?  Do I want to see this?  How do they get out?  Same way they got in, like human babies?  Nope. Eye balls.  They come out through the eyes.  I think I may be sick.  Zah Zah really wanted me to stay.  Then he started to tell me what nice, soft ears I have.

Linsey Kuhn: Skater, Artist, Old Skool DIY

Is there a cerebral connection somewhere between art and skateboarding? For some people skating is an art, for others art has nothing to do with skating. Then there are those who combine these two things to form a lifestyle.

Lindsey Kuhn has found a way to turn his passions into career, and has been both skating and creating art for over three decades. He was born in Evanston, IL, but grew up on the coast of Mississippi where the now infamous Swamp ramp(s) stood for over ten years. In 1983 he began screen-printing t-shirts primarily to pay for maintenance of the massive ramp. Those simple t-shirts have ballooned into an internationally known company called SWAMP. Today Lindsey is best known for his silk-screened rock posters for hundreds of bands like The Melvins, Tool, Atmosphere, AC/DC and more. Swamp also does custom printing and publishes work for other artists.

Lindsey moved to Austin, TX in 1990 and within a year started printing posters for Southern California’s L’imagerie Gallery. L’imagerie set up a small flat press shop in Austin produce rock posters for Frank Kozik, as well as, Serigraphs for other artists they represented. Such as Robert Crumb, Ed Roth, Robert Williams, Joe Colman, and others. While printing all this great art, Lindsey realized there was a demand for what he had been doing for years and seized the opportunity to learn from these lowbrow masters helping to revive the lost art of the Rock Poster. He has continued to create posters for over 20 years, keeping his D.I.Y. ethic alive by printing his own work as well as other artists from around the world through his print company called SWAMP, which is now located in Denver, CO.

In 1994, Lindsey started making Conspiracy Skateboards because of the lack of big skateboards in the industry at that time. Today, Conspiracy has grown into one of the few truly “independent” skate companies working with artists like Pushead, Stainboy & Angry Blue as well as having some of the best underground riders in the country. In the same year he started, with the help of longtime friend Tim Kerr, Nolie Records which released 19, 7”records & cd’s most of which were local Austin bands including Jack o’ Fire, Jesus Christ Superfly, Lord High Fixers, Fuckemos and Live at Emo’s, volume 2. In 2010 his first book, “Lure of the SWAMP”, was released. It compiled many of his Rock Posters that he made over the years. This year the second edition is out with bonus pages featuring more work up to his 20th Anniversary of making posters.

Lindsey has also done commercial work for X-box, Camel, Oakley, toured with the “Southern Comfort Music Experience”, as well as having art shows in Japan, Europe and all over America.

Lindsey has brought art, music and skateboarding together throughout his life paving the way for others to enjoy and hopefully make connections with his work.

Join Lindsey on Facebook to follow his every move!

Lindsey also owns Conspiracy Skateboards 

Lindsey Kuhn- The Alien Bowl
Kuhn '86


Ginger and friend Lindsey Kuhn in Mobile, Al

Looking Back at the Beat Generation by A.D. Winans

Generally speaking, counter-culture describes the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group or subculture in conflict with those of the cultural mainstream of the day, a visible phenomenon that reaches critical mass and persists for some time.
Jack Micheline & A.D.Winans by Linda Lerner
The Beat Generation was composed of a group of American poets and writers who first congregated in New York and later joined their West Coast brothers and sisters.  The movement became prominent in the 1950s and 1960s. The Beats engaged in spontaneity, passionate dialogue, open sexuality, and experimentation with drugs. Their work reflected this and it began to infiltrate the established literary magazines. The influence of the Beats on postmodern literature is undeniable. I grew up in the 1950s, in an era in which you were expected to be a logically thinking, level-headed individual whose purpose was to work hard, raise a family, and be patriotic to your country.  It was a society of rules, order, and materialism.  There was little if any room for individualistic behavior. As the Fifties progressed, the Beat movement began to emerge.  It had its roots in New York (Greenwich Village) and San Francisco (North Beach).  The Beats openly challenged and defied the established order.  They spoke out in opposition to what America represented, as they rebelled against everything the Establishment stood for: the repression of dissent in the name of militarism, racism, materialism, and conformity. 

Bob Kaufman personifies the true meaning of the Beat spirit.  He was one of the original Beat voices to come out of the Fifties and is rightfully considered by many to be the most influential black poet of his era, though his poetry transcends race identification.   Like many of the Beats, he started out in New York and later found his way to San Francisco's North Beach. While Allen Ginsberg was reading his poetry to large audiences, Kaufman chose another path, becoming the undisputed street poet, who frequented the Co-existence Bagel Shop, located on Grant and Green. His poetic technique resembles the surreal school of poets, ranging from a powerful, lyrical vision to the more prophetic tone found in his political poems.  Kaufman considered himself a Buddhist. He believed a poet had a call to a higher order. He lived a life of spirituality. He denounced materialism.

Allen Ginsberg
People flocked to the Co-existence Bagel Shop in the hope of seeing him read.  He delighted the audience by jumping up on one of the tables and reciting a newly written poem, or by reading poems from the master poets, such as Eliot, Pound, and Blake.  When he read, there was total silence.  The audience hung on his every word. His fate was sealed, however, the day he wrote on the walls of the Bagel Shop, "Adolph Hitler, growing tired of fooling around with Eva Braun, and burning Jews, moved to San Francisco and became a cop."  This was the beginning of his regularly being harassed by the police and frequently receiving beatings at the old Kearny Street Hall of Justice.   By the late Sixties he had fallen victim to drugs and forced shock treatments at New York's Bellevue Hospital and was but a shell of what he had been in the Fifties.

The Beats were among the first to fictionalize and embellish their lives to readers worldwide who thrived on the experiences of the authors.  By the late Fifties they had cemented their role in the New American Counterculture but, much to their dismay, it was their "lifestyle," rather than their art, that began to take center stage. What distinguished them from ordinary malcontents was their talent and inner conviction.  They represented a large contingency of restless and disenchanted young people around the world.  But it was also a time when the media began to mass-produce and market the "ideal" America. The media began its drum roll to destroy a culture revolution and turn it into a cultural fad. The word Beat began to lose its significance as part of an artistic sub-culture and became instead a label for anyone choosing to live simply and humbly as a Bohemian, or who acted rebelliously. In 1958, the word beatnik was coined by the poet Bob Kaufman to characterize the physical allure of the Beats, instead of their social and intellectual radicalism. 

When I returned from Panama in 1958, the Beats were already beginning to move out of San Francisco's North Beach, migrating to places like Mexico and Venice Beach, California.  The term beatnik became the brunt of jokes, rather than representative of a serious revolution.   The mass media depicted the only two things publishers and tycoons wanted to exploit about the Beats: their image and their lifestyle.   

Jack Kerouac
In order to comprehend the creative surge that took place in North Beach during this time, it is first necessary to understand the literary tradition of San Francisco. It was only natural that the Beat movement flourished there, where it blossomed and came to fruition. But the truth is a literary Bohemia existed in San Francisco long before Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and other Beat souls came to the city.  

The North Beach creative hub took place in a six-block radius from lower to upper Grant Avenue, centered around a large number of bars, cafés and coffee houses, frequented by poets, artists, and jazz musicians. While Grant Avenue was the center stage of creativity, the bevy of Beat oriented cafés and bars actually extended from Broadway and Columbus, and all the way to the produce district, where the self-proclaimed king of the Beats, Big Daddy Nord, held court in a large warehouse. Eric's Pad, as it was known, remained open at all hours. You could walk in any night of the week and see blacks and whites freely mingling and dancing to the music of bongo and conga drums.  On the upstairs roof there was a string of mattresses, with couples fornicating in full view of onlookers, some quite agog, others blasé.

But two decades earlier, San Francisco was already thriving with creative energy, during what was known as the "San Francisco Renaissance," a designation for a range of poetic activity centered throughout the city. Kenneth Rexroth, often referred to as the "Father of the Beats," is also generally considered to be the founding father of the Renaissance.  Rexroth was a prominent second-generation modernist poet who corresponded with Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams.  He came to the city from Chicago, where he had operated a jazz and poetry tea room known as the Green Mask, which housed an upstairs brothel, right in line with San Francisco's bawdy history.  Rexroth was not only a poet and writer but also a union organizer. He hung out on San Francisco's Waterfront encouraging dockworkers to become union members. 

Rexroth held regular readings in his apartment, located over a record store in the Fillmore District.  Among the many poets who frequented the meetings was Philip Whalen, who later appeared in Kerouac's novels as "Ben Fagin" and "Warren Coughlin."  The poets who attended the meetings represented a wide range of writing styles, from the ballads of Helen Adams to the bawdy rhymes of poet and filmmaker James Broughton.  The readings were a haven for both young and old poets as well as visiting luminaries.

If Rexroth was the father of the Beats, then Madeline Gleason was the founding mother.  During the 1940s, both Rexroth and Gleason befriended a group of younger Berkeley poets, including Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan.   

In 1952, Dylan Thomas came to the city and captivated a standing-room audience, which came to see the Welshman drunkenly read his work.  A year later, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin opened City Lights Bookstore, partly to finance City Lights Journal, which, at the time, was publishing the surreal poet Philip Lamantia. 

Young Allen Ginsberg
When Ginsberg came to the city in the early Fifties it was only natural he would find his way to Rexroth's weekly gatherings.   In 1954, Ginsberg had not yet acknowledged his homosexuality, but this same year he met Peter Orlovsky, and the two became life partners. During this same time, Rexroth was reading his poetry to jazz accompaniment at a small cellar bar on Green and Columbus streets, while Jack Spicer presided over the famous "Blabbermouth Night" at a bar called "The Place" on upper Grant Avenue.  It was around this time that Ginsberg began writing the first lines of his epic poem Howl. Encouraged by Kerouac, Ginsberg began searching for a place to showcase the poem.  Rexroth organized a reading at the Six Gallery, located at Fillmore and Greenwich streets.  The reading featured Ginsberg, Snyder, Whalen, Michael McClure, and Philip Lamantia, with Rexroth serving as master of ceremonies.   Kerouac was not on the bill but did attend the event.  The reading drew a large crowd, with Kerouac drunkenly passing large jugs of red wine through the audience.  Ginsberg was the last poet to read and, urged on by Kerouac, gave a passionate reading, a reading which held the crowd spellbound and which launched him on his way to fame.   

The most important accomplishment of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Cassady was to make rebellious young people throughout the land aware that there was others out there who felt the way they felt.  This was expressed by Diane di Prima, who is quoted as saying that Howl encouraged her and others to step forward and make their voices heard.  She was in effect heralding the cause of a new clan of poets who would become known as the Beat Generation. 

Photo from The 1957 Howl Trial
The single most important event that helped the Beats gain notoriety occurred on March 25, 1957, when agents from the U.S. Customs Bureau seized the first shipment of Howl and declared the book obscene. Ferlinghetti and Shig Muro (the manager of the City Lights)) were charged with selling obscene literature.  The American Civil Liberties Union intervened, providing free legal assistance.  Writers and critics testified on behalf of City Lights, and Judge Clayton Horn set a precedent by ruling that if a book has "the slightest redeeming social importance, it is protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. and California Constitutions and therefore can not be declared obscene."  This legal precedent allowed D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer to be published by Grove Press.   

It's equally important to note the influence of jazz on the work of the Beats.  Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus were among the many jazz musicians to whom the Beats were drawn.  In the late Fifties and into the Sixties, Jazz was central to what was happening.  Wes Montgomery and Cal Tjader were very much part of the scene. The Fillmore District, a largely black community, was known as "Bop City," a hangout for musician such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. 

It was common to see New York jazz musicians visiting San Francisco's Fillmore District, and it was here that musicians and lovers of jazz gathered in the early hours of the morning. The Beats and bebop were like twins.  Carter Monroe points out, "When discussing the Bebop movement in terms of Beat Literature, you are talking about the freedom it represents."

A great deal of Beat literature in terms of influence is all about content and challenging social mores.  Bebop challenged the existing parameters of music. You can see this influence in the work of Jack Kerouac and perhaps even more so in the work of the poet Bob Kaufman.  In North Beach, Kaufman was regarded as the Bebop poet, and much of his poetry is infused with jazz.

William S Burroughs photo by Ginger Eades
Today both literary critics and academics alike recognize the Beats as legitimate poets, writers, and artists, but the legitimacy did not come without a cost.  As is often the case, success comes with a price tag, and so it came for some of the Beats. Many of the Beat poets were co-opted into the system.  Ginsberg applied for and received not one but three NEA writing grants and he sold his archives to Stanford University for over a million dollars.  William Burroughs made commercials and had a small role in a movie.  Ferlinghetti's once avant-garde bookstore can't be distinguished today from other commercial bookstores, and he is second only to Ginsberg in marketing himself, commanding thousands of dollars for a reading.  It was poets such as Jack Kerouac, Micheline, Kaufman, Corso and Ray Bremser who remained true to the Beat spirit right up until the time of their deaths.  And while today's youth remain intrigued by, if not directly influenced by, the Beat Generation, there hasn't been a real counter-culture revolution in the U.S. since the hippie phenomenon, which was a youth movement that began in the U.S. during the early 1960s and, as was the case with the Beats, soon spread around the world.

The word hippie is said to have derived from the word "hipster" and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district.  These people embraced the counter-culture values of the Beat Generation, forming their own communities, listening to Psychedelic Rock, embracing sexual revolution, and experimenting with drugs like LSD, grass, and peyote in order to explore alternate states of consciousness.   

In 1967, a "human be-in" was held, leading to the legendary 1967 Summer of Love and two years later to the 1969 Woodstock Festival on the East Coast.  Hippie fashions and values had a major effect on the broader culture, influencing popular music, film, literature, and the arts.  The hippie legacy can be observed in contemporary culture in many forms...from health food to music festivals to today's sexual mores.   

I had the good fortune of experiencing the tail end of the Beat Generation, the Post-Beat Generation that followed and the birth and the death of the Hippie Generation.   

Allen Ginsberg


I saw the best minds of my generation
destroyed by greed, not so starving
hysterical, naked under their fashion designer clothes
driving themselves through congested city streets
looking for non-existent parking spaces
aging hormone-driven biological clock mothers
offering their purple-veined breasts to baby suckling
zombies, in and out of public
Whose stock market-driven and laser vision perception
sipped Starbuck's coffee under protective awnings
while watching street cops shoo off the homeless
who chatted aimlessly on their cell phones
making reservations at trendy restaurants
while whining about the quality of the wine
who fucked only by appointment, dutifully expecting
a climax in sixty seconds or less
who shopped at organic food markets looking
for eternal youth while seeking cash rebates
with no idea what to do with them
who saw the Savior while vacationing in Palm Springs
and God on Turner TV
who taught their children how to use ATM machines
while devising clever tax-evasion schemes
who gave up writing to save a tree
and claimed it as a tax deduction
who drove their cars in the bicycle lane
hoping for some excitement
who pierced their nipples cocks and tongues
wanting to be among the hip and young
who pledged their allegiance to the Almighty Dollar
while writing protest letters to their daily newspaper
Holy is the sock.  Holy is Swiss cheese.
Holy is the Bank of America. Holy is cable television.
Holy is the condom.  Holy is the U.N.
Holy is pop culture.
Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching is the new
Holy Order
the holy of the unholy
the best minds of my generation

Allen and Neal

The Art by Iconoclasts Mary Beach and Claude Pelieu Lives On

To learn more about the artists, Mary Beach and Claude Pelieu click HERE. For inquiries, shows and purchasing please visit the Beach/Pelieu Art Site HERE.

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.

Click the white arrow below to view a slide show created by Ginger Eades of some of the late work by these two remarkable artists, Mary Beach and Claude Pelieu.

Slide Show Created by Ginger Eades in Honor of Mary Beach and her daughter, Pam.

Art by Mary Beach


Andrew Wyeth's painting, YOUNG AMERICA, 1950