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”


George Saunders Has Some Thoughts About Art in the Trump Era

The hallowed short story author, who recently published his debut novel, explains the difference between our “art minds” and “media minds,” and why we need to pay attention to the former…

Read the entire interview here. I am only concerned with the conversation about art and media. Ellisa questions are in bold text. George answers in regular text.

Despite the fact that the novel is set 150 years ago, it feels very timely. A president, a profoundly good man, is grieving the lives lost in the war between the North and South, the country being torn apart and wrestling with his faith and that image of the distraught father cradling his young dead son. It made me think of President Obama, and all the young men killed by gun violence.

It’s so funny, the way art works. You’re concentrating on the machinery—the linguistic details of the speeches, and moving the characters around and then a system of meaning emerges from that, almost of its own volition. In this case, the material became much darker and sadder than I thought it would be. But it also gave me some truths I wasn’t expecting.

We do love things that go away. We might say, “Oh, God, please just let me die first!” But then you realize: “If I go first, that doesn’t mean the people I love won’t eventually have to die. It just means I won’t be there to have to witness it.” So anyway you cut it, it’s bleak. So . . . then what? How do we live in the face of the bleakness, and how do we live, even, with joy in the face of the bleakness?

I’m curious about the nonfiction piece you did for The New Yorker, “Who are All These Trump Supporters?”.  There seems to be some overlap between that dystopian America you satirize in your early stories that have working class folks at the mercy of capitalism and commercialism, and the Trump supporters in the article.

In my 20s I was really deep in working-class life—I worked as a roofer and in a slaughterhouse. These were my people. So it was fun and difficult to get out there and have a little bit of a confusion about competing parts of myself— the former working stiff versus the current liberal softie. Part of me just wanted to nail that movement, but then there are these nice people, who weren’t used to being interviewed, and weren’t political power players. They were just at a rally. It feels like a really complicated mathematical equation. What produces a Trump supporter? When, to me, everything he stands for just seems wrong. I haven’t figured it out yet… (more)

This week, the folks in Lowell, Massachusetts will celebrate the life of one of their most famous artists and a Florida favorite, Jack Kerouac. How surprised would he be to be remembered in this day of a new anti-art movement. How daunting would this be for Thomas Reese, after joyful years of expanded freedoms to be painted back into the cold prison of suppression. What do these cycles of social injustice and repression tell us about the human condition and psyche? Where does this need to curb our freedoms come from?

Continue reading “George Saunders Has Some Thoughts About Art in the Trump Era”

Encyclopedia Britannica acknowledges Beaux Arts connections

Finally, the editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica online have named the Beaux Arts in their articles on Jack Kerouac and Jim Morrison as a coffeehouse which Kerouac frequented in the final years of his life and the coffee house in which Morrison first read his poetry before an audience:
Best wishes ever, Hugh
“…In 1969 Kerouac was broke, and many of his books were out of print. An alcoholic, he was living with his third wife and his mother in St. Petersburg, Florida. He spent his time at the Beaux Arts coffeehouse in nearby Pinellas Park and in local bars, such as the Wild Boar in Tampa. A week after he was beaten by fellow drinkers whom he had antagonized at the Cactus Bar in St. Petersburg, he died of internal hemorrhaging in front of his television while watching The Galloping Gourmet—the ultimate ending for a writer who came to be known as the “martyred king of the Beats…”


The ghost of Kerouac haunts the Alley, facing Specs, between Vesuvio and City Light Books where his books are on full display. The Beat Museum is a block away. I wonder he makes of all this.
“…Morrison’s father was a naval officer (ultimately an admiral), and the family moved frequently, though it settled down in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, where Morrison attended high school and was a good but rebellious student. He began his college education in 1961 at St. Petersburg Junior College (now St. Petersburg College) in Florida and developed his talents as a performer by reciting poetry at the local Beaux Arts coffeehouse. He subsequently transferred to Florida State University and then to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied film. There he met Ray Manzarek, who played the organ in the rock group that the two formed in 1965 with guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. They called themselves the Doors, taking their name from Aldous Huxley’s book on mescaline, The Doors of Perception (1954), which was itself titled after a line by William Blake…”


I’m going to add a bit to the story and say that Jim was apparently living in an apartment on Rue de Beaux Arts in Paris when he died. So the connections never end. Until it all does.

Many ghosts lurk about the  gum tree that marks the spot of Morrison’s grave at Pere-LaChaise in Paris.

The Beaux, where retiring and emerging artists met and mingled “until the end.”

Kerouac in Encyclopaedia Britannica

I finally managed to convince the editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica online that Jack Kerouac did indeed frequent the Beaux Arts coffee house (Pinellas Park) and my first college pub The Wild Boar (Tampa) as well.

But the EB editors found my lines about finding Kerouac still drunk in his car outside The Wild Boar the morning after unsuitable for publication. I don’t understand why really. After all, they report that he was nearly beaten to death by fellow drinkers whom he had “antagonized” in another bar. Then what’s so dangerous about saying that he slept off his hangover in the car outside The Wild Boar?

Anyway, I thought you would be happy to know that the Beaux Arts has now been immortalized by the EB online in their narrative of Kerouac’s life.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest New Year ever!



P.S. Follow this link: additions-and-corrections-to-the-eb-online

San Francisco Beat Museum Future seeks a permanent home


Current location on Broadway in San Francisco’s North Beach, just down the street from City Lights Book Store on Kerouac Alley.

There are four ways you can help us secure The Beat Museum’s future.
And none of them will cost you a penny.

Dear Friend,

Recently I wrote to you about how difficult things are for so many these days in San Francisco. Like many small organizations and non-profits, The Beat Museum is feeling the squeeze as rents continue to skyrocket and corporate interests take over.

The brutal truth is this: while you’re renting in San Francisco, you’re at the mercy of others. The only way to know you are truly safe is to own the property you occupy.

So, to safeguard the future of The Beat Museum, and to keep The Beat Generation and its values as the beating heart of North Beach, we intend to buy our own building.

Yes this is a large undertaking, but I feel we really have no other option. And if we don’t do it soon I believe it is likely we will wake up one day – possibly sooner rather than later – and find that we’re homeless.

Obviously, buying a building is going to be expensive. But, I am not asking you for cash you don’t have. Instead, there are four things that anyone and everyone can do to help us secure The Beat Museum’s future.

Click here to see sketches of a new Beat Museum:


We need to show that the North Beach community, as well as Beat fans around the world, are behind this campaign. So please write in to let us know a bit about you – and why you care about the survival of the Beat Museum. You can either drop us an email or use the form in the link above.

We’re pitching this endeavor as “Good for North Beach, Good for San Francisco and Good for Beat Generation fans around the world.” I’d love for our campaign to go viral. So if you are on Facebook or Twitter please tell your followers about our fight to stay in North Beach. We’re using the hashtag #SaveTheBeatMuseum.

Also please contact TV people, radio, print and blogs. Maybe they’re here in San Francisco or somewhere else in the country or even around the world. I’m available for interviews as to why this is vital for the soul of our great city.

Please forward to your friends and any celebrities you might know who dig the Beats. Please ask them for a testimonial as well. I’m firmly convinced this dream can become a reality if we can get some momentum behind us – and celebrities can help us get the word out to a much larger audience.

Please forward to anyone you know who can write a big check. We have a few philanthropists lined up but we still need more. Wouldn’t it be great if we could make a public announcement soon that we have secured some major pledges? Imagine the additional support we could garner if we saw a headline like this:


Imagine how big that announcement would be!

The Friends of The Beat Museum is a non-profit 501(c)3 so all donations are eligible for a tax deduction to the fullest extent of the law. I know there are a lot of extremely wealthy individuals who love The Beats. We need your help in ensuring these folks know there is a Beat Museum in San Francisco that celebrates the spirit of The Beat Generation and we’re trying to buy a permanent home to cement that legacy.

Donors can remain anonymous, of course, and I welcome a phone call or email from people in this regard. I truly believe we can build a coalition of extremely wealthy supporters, but these folks need to know what we’re trying to accomplish in order to make that happen.


Please don’t put this off until tomorrow or next week. The perfect building for the future of The Beat Museum is currently on the market right now two blocks away at the corner of Stockton & Green and if we miss this chance, we may not find another.

Believe me, since my last email, the buzz about our intention for a new building in North Beach has been palpable. I know what we’re trying to accomplish is an outrageous undertaking. And our friends and neighbors in North Beach are telling us they love the sheer audacity of our plan. Can you now help us spread the buzz and make it even louder?

With your help I really do believe we can not only save the Beat Museum – but help save the soul of San Francisco.

And, if you DO want to make a donation, you may do so here:

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Jerry Cimino
The Beat Museum
540 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133

Please Note: If any of the above links are broken, please visit


Continue reading “San Francisco Beat Museum Future seeks a permanent home”

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