Summer of Love lost on those living in Summer of Discontent

By Caille Millner : sfchronicle – excerpt

In our Summer of Discontent, what can we learn from the Summer of Love?

Since the Summer took place before I was born, I have no nostalgia, passions or bad memories about anything that happened in San Francisco in 1967.

I can tell that for some people it was a seminal event, judging by the extent of attention I’ve seen around the 50th anniversary. There have been at least 10 Bay Area museum exhibits celebrating some aspect of the Summer of Love this year. There have been endless free concerts, tours and tie-dyed public posters. There’s been even-more-extensive-than-usual glorification of the Grateful Dead.

I appreciate how all of this is an opportunity for a segment of Bay Area Baby Boomers to indulge in youthful memories of the good times. (Have fun, kids!)

But for those of us far too young to have been there, the Summer of Love has never felt as far away as it does in 2017.

On my way to the de Young Museum’s “Summer of Love Experience” exhibit, in Golden Gate Park, I traveled through the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. My misgivings began there.

San Francisco’s advanced state of economic inequality and neighborhood gentrification have led to strange street-level juxtapositions all over town. But the Haight is still a special place; these juxtapositions maintain a hard edge…

Continue reading “Summer of Love lost on those living in Summer of Discontent”


Artist and writer’s new book offers bizarre, healing literary journey

By Laura Wenus : missionlocal – excerpt (includes audio track)

In the bruising tumult of San Francisco’s housing crisis, Paul Madonna’s On to the Next Dream is the absurdist balm to soothe your sore and weary soul.

Madonna is an artist who for 12 years had a drawing and short essay series called All Over Coffee in the San Francisco Chronicle. You might more immediately recognize him by his detailed sepia-tone line paintings, which have been exhibited at museums around the Bay Area and will enjoy another solo exhibition at the Legion of Honor.

When he was evicted from his home and studio in the Mission District, Madonna decided to reflect on the experience in his Chronicle series. Ultimately, he ended the series but turned those reflections into a book. It’s a ride through his own coming to terms with the fact that he must now move on, as the title implies, to the next dream, and more broadly, a reflection on loss… (more)

Mahatma Gandhi

“When partition of the subcontinent was accepted—against his advice—he threw himself heart and soul into the task of healing the scars of the communal conflict, toured the riot-torn areas in Bengal and Bihar, admonished the bigots, consoled the victims, and tried to rehabilitate the refugees. In the atmosphere of that period, surcharged with suspicion and hatred, that was a difficult and heartbreaking task. Gandhi was blamed by partisans of both the communities. When persuasion failed, he went on a fast. He won at least two spectacular triumphs: in September 1947 his fasting stopped the rioting in Calcutta, and in January 1948 he shamed the city of Delhi into a communal truce.

Rare news clipping of Mahatma Gandhi leading Hindu squatters out of the dargah of Hazrat Qutb ud Din Bakhtiyar-i Kaki in Mehrauli, Delhi, only some days before his assassination on 30th January 1948 – sent by Hugh Van Skyhawk

A few days later, on January 30, while he was on his way to his evening  prayer meeting in Delhi, his physical body was shot down by Nathuram Godse, a young Hindu fanatic. But by his act Nathuram Godse ironically increased Gandhi’s lasting influence on the course of history and the shaping of the Indian union.”

City Lights responds to the new action era in North Beach

By KPIX : CBSlocal – excerpt (video included)

TURNING THE PAGE: They are putting up resistance at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach, with a brand new section.

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — One of the Bay Area’s most beloved bookstores has a new section designed to help voters who are in despair over the presidency of Donald Trump. They are putting up resistance at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach, with a special section called “Pedagogies of Resistance.”… (more)
Send us news of your city’s actions to post on this site. We want to know what is going on in artists groups all over the country.

David Meltzer, SF Beat generation poet and musician, dies

David Meltzer, the prolific poet and musician who merged his two passions, creating work that goes back to the Beat generation and San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s and ’60s, has died. He was 79.

Mr. Meltzer died peacefully Saturday at his home in Oakland after suffering a stroke, said his daughters. He was surrounded by loved ones.

Fellow Bay Area Beat poet Diane di Prima called Mr. Meltzer “one of the secret treasures on our planet. Great poet, musician, comic; mystic unsurpassed, performer with few peers.”

His friends Greg and Keiko Levasseur wrote on the poet’s website that “We have lost a great poet, scholar, musician, and jazz historian. He was a loving husband and father, and a great soul. He was a wonderful friend whose gentle spirit, sense of humor, and astonishing capacity for sake made him a joy to be with.”

Mr. Meltzer wrote more than 40 volumes of poetry, among them “Arrows: Selected Poetry 1957-1992,” “Name: Selected Poetry, 1973-1983” and “Beat Thing” (2004). His nonfiction work includes “Reading Jazz” (1993), “Writing Jazz” (1999), “When I Was a Poet” (2011) and “Two-Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook,” a collection of anecdotes and quotations published by Oyez Press in 1977 and rereleased by City Lights Publishers in 2015… (more)

Beat News You Can Use!

kerouac – excerpt

Major Acquisition – Original Neal Cassady Letters – Exhibition Opens August, 2016
540 Broadway, SF, Open daily 10 AM- 7 PM

1). The Beat Museum Presents: Harold Norse Centennial
2). The Beat Museum Presents: The Living Theater in San Francisco
3). Neal Cassady Joan Anderson Letter – Christies Auction Results
4). The Monsignor’s Godson – Neal Cassady Exhibit Opens in August
5). Coming Soon: Big News about The Future of The Beat Museum

Harold Norse was born Harold Rosen in New York City on July 6, 1916. Norse was associated with WH Auden, James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams, William Carlos Williams, Dylan Thomas, Paul and Jane Bowles, Charles Bukowski and Anais Nin. In the 1950s he lived with Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and William S. Burroughs and others at The Beat Hotel in Paris. Living in San Francisco the last 35 years of his life, Norse became a leading voice in gay liberation.

The Beat Museum is proud to sponsor three events in July in recognition of Harold’s Centennial. The first is Wednesday, July 6th at 7pm at The Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. Admission is $15, but if you’re a member of either The Mechanics Institute or The Beat Museum admission is free. The second event is at The Beat Museum on Saturday, July 9th at 7pm. The third event is at Beyond Baroque in Los Angeles on Saturday, July 23rd at 4pm.

Save the date! The Beat Museum will be hosting The Living Theater here in San Francisco on Thursday, August 25th. The Living Theater was founded in 1947 by Julien Beck and Judith Malina ….. and is the oldest experimental theater company in the United States. The association between The Beat Generation and The Living Theater goes back decades and we’re excited to be bringing the troupe to San Francisco.  More details to come as the August 25th date gets closer..

On June 16th, 2016 Beat Generation fans around the world were surprised when Neal Cassady’s infamous letter to Jack Kerouac (called by Jack & Allen “The Joan Anderson Letter”) failed to sell at Christies Auction House in New York City. The Reserve price was set at $400,000 with the opening bid starting at $200,000. According to Brian Hassett (author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac), who was in the room, there were two phone bidders who quickly went back and forth from $240,000 to $260,000 to $280,000 taking the bidding up to $380,000 where it abruptly stopped. No one made the commitment to buy at $400,000!

To say fans were shocked is an understatement. Many people had believed this letter by Neal, which everyone agrees showed the way to spontaneous prose for Kerouac, would easily fetch a million dollars + and it is obvious by the bidding pattern that the people who did bid were only doing so for the bragging rights of saying, “I bid on the JAL but I was outbid.” Those bragging rights fell apart when the letter went unsold.

In fact, I had spoken to some people regarding an attempt to raise the necessary funds for The Beat Museum to bid on the letter, but I mistakenly believed someone like Jim Irsay would walk away with it like he did Jack Kerouac’s scroll in 2001 for $2,400,000. Figuring there was no way we were going to outbid a billionaire like Jim Irsay, we abandoned the attempt to raise the funds instead focusing our efforts on other productive matters more within our control.

As most of you know, The Beat Museum has never had a budget for acquiring artifacts. And the great thing about building a place like The Beat Museum is the vast majority of what we do have on display has been either donated or loaned to us over the years by Beat fans from around the globe.

It is for this reason we really weren’t too surprised six months ago when we received an email out of the blue that someone wanted to place some very rare items on permanent loan to us. We were surprised, however, by the importance of the collection. In the introductory email we were told, “I briefly considered placing these letters and the related items with Columbia, The NY Public Library, Chapel Hill or Stanford, but it seems to me The Beat Museum is doing the most interesting work of any organization in the world relating to the Beats and I believe these items will be seen by more people at your museum in San Francisco” and hence the collection of letters and other artifacts came to us.

The file in question contains six original letters written by Neal Cassady to his godfather in Denver, Father John Harley Schmitt. The letters were written from May, 1958 through July, 1960 and all six were published in the 1993 book “Grace Beats Karma – Letters from Prison” along with fifty-six letters from Neal to his wife Carolyn and their children.

Added to the other Cassady items we have on display that came to us through the generosity of Neal’s son, John Allen Cassady, this exhibition of “The Monsignor’s Godson” is the most robust exhibition of original Neal Cassady items on public view in the world.

“The Monsignor’s Godson: From The Streets of Denver to the Cells of San Quentin” will be on exhibition starting in August at The Beat Museum.

Click here for further information:

Things are happening fast all over San Francisco in our topsy-turvy real-estate environment these days and North Beach is no different. Some organizations are leaving town or closing up shop altogether and others are being reborn in significantly different incarnations. We’ll be making a public announcement about the future of The Beat Museum in North Beach in the coming weeks – so stay tuned!

Thanks for your continued support!
Jerry Cimino
The Beat Museum
540 Broadway (at Columbus)
San Francisco, CA  94133

Join us! Become a “card carrying member” of The Beat Museum.
Please Note: If any of the above links are broken, all info can be found at kerouac (dot) com

RIP Eric Beckus

RIP Eric Beckus


Eric was one of  Tom’s first students at the Beaux Arts school in Pinellas County. He lived the life of an artist, creating wonderful paintings, sculptures, poetry, and music. When I met Eric, he invited me to visit his home, which was filled with his simple life and diet of art. In addition to expressing his own world of fantastic visions, Eric was adapt at repairing the work of other fine artists. He was a museum quality restoration specialist. Museums and galleries entrusted their finest pieces to Eric.

When I last saw Eric he was working on writing a children’s book. He allowed me to shoot some of the illustrations and shared some drafts with me that I will look for. Eric had a great sense of humor. We will try to get more of his work posted, as well as some of his music soon. Meanwhile fest on this. Don’t miss the YouTube footage:



Eric’s Beaux Arts Story, 11/7/06

I first visited the Beaux Arts gallery around 1953. I was a student at St. Petersburg Junior college and I wanted to find a gallery to attempt to exhibit my drawings and watercolors. The galleries in the city were beyond my capabilities as an artist. But the Beaux Arts was and continued to be, a place anyone could be seen at least.

The gallery was an old hotel. It had porches around its perimeter and Pinellas Park was small and quiet. The door was open like a church and I went in. I called out and Tom Reese came from a back room. He came thru a curtain and stood before me in a pose. His shirt was off and he had a chest covered in black hair and his head too was jet black and wavy. He was handsome and muscular with no belly or flab. I knew I wasn’t in a traditional gallery.

Tom sat with me and looked over my small collection of work. He was not caustic in those days although his prize insights were blunt, it was usually the fact. Some art is bad. As if the person set out to make it so.

Each meeting seemed to convince him I could have a show of my poems and pen line watercolors. Finally I did have the show on the side room which was a small gallery for art that could not compose a whole show in the main gallery.

Tom had two watercolors printed in color in the St. Petersburg Times. They were the first color plates used back then. and he had given that all to me. In a sense he saved my life because without his encouragement I would truly be a different person today. He was a saint in the true sense that is a man or woman that subjects themselves to a belief system and is always trying to live up to the rules. The rules of art as well as religion are the same except in regard to the human body. Beaux Arts was freedom to be true to yourself. Tom was the one that first showed me the variety of people I could at last fit in with. this family of artists.

As a man Tom was the man that sells the tickets in a carnival. The ‘Beaux Arts was that to me. As I went in the door, those carnival images painted on trailers were now in a gallery, dignified, not comic book paintings. It was a rarified world with people like carnival people, odd balls with a tent to live under together.

Tom was attracted to fame at an early age. He went to see the famous pianist Paderewsi who was a Polish hero visiting St. Petersburg. He got up early and went to the train station to wait. He got to say hello, and shake hands, and perhaps that handshake, to an 8-year-old boy passed fame, because he never stopped his craving for fame or the talk of famous people. The desire to have the whole world know your name was his burden as well as his reason to be able to see others with the same eye to try to help another get what he knew he could never get.

He was famous but the never felt it was enough. I’m so glad he never achieved the fame he longed for. I wouldn’t have gotten to know him.

– Eric Beckus

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