January 30: Remembering Richard Brautigan on his birthday


He was a meteor.

He was an author of such works as Trout Fishing in AmericaIn Watermelon Sugar and The Hawkline Monster, wedged between the Beat Generation and the hippie movement. He showered readers of the 1960s and ’70s with inspiring spare, proletarian ideals in his novels.

He was a poet who foreshadowed the vise-like, smothering grip that technology has over us today in the poem “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace.”

He was, as biographer and admirer William Hjortsberg noted in Jubilee Hitchhiker, a writer who combined an “easy offhand voice” with “concern for average working-class people, his matter-of-fact treatment of death, and his often-startling juxtaposition of wildly disparate images.”   

Then he was gone. Continue reading “January 30: Remembering Richard Brautigan on his birthday”


The French are Leading the Revival of The Velvet Underground in New York

This exhibit chronicles The Velvet Underground’s lasting impact on not only music, but also fashion, art, literature, and cinema.

“We want to tell a story about the history and heritage of this group who influenced not only music but also fashion, art, literature, and cinema.” Two years after the success of the first exhibit dedicated to the American group at the Philharmonie de Paris, Christian Fevret is reviving The Velvet Underground in New York in a temporary exhibit open until December 30th in Greenwich Village.

Joined by the audiovisual producer Carole Mirabello, Fevret, the founder of the magazine Les Inrockuptibles, takes us back in time to 1960s New York, where four friends including Lou Reed and John Cale are going to invent a new type of rule-breaking music, “at the notch between rock and new wave,” that will define an entire generation. “It’s the paradox of The Velvet Underground. They were before their time, too advanced to be known during their period. But they influenced many artists like David Bowie, LCD Sound System, Andy Warhol, who produced their first album, photographers such as Stephen Shore, and even French artists like Serge Gainsbourg and Vanessa Paradis,” explains Fevret.

The voice of the American poet and writer Allen Ginsberg, symbol of the beat poet generation, sets the tone of the exhibit from the entrance with two screens displaying images from an archive of a capitalist and puritan America on one side, rock n’ roll and controversy on the other. Hundreds of photos document the story of Velvet, from the group’s first performances to the split in 1968. Six exceptional films will also be shown for the occasion. Among them, Mirabello and Fevret have gotten their hands on rare concert images of Velvet at the Bataclan in Paris in 1972. “To present an exhibit on Velvet was a great challenge, given their short existence (three years), and the few relics that they left behind,” confides Fevret.

To make the exhibit even more immerse and “underground,” Bandsintown Studio has converted the exhibit’s basement into a space to host masterclasses and concerts twice a week.

The two French leaders of the revival hope that the exhibit will be “at least as good as in Paris.” The Philharmonie exhibit hosted over 65,000 visitors during its run. The success in New York will determine if it’s the start of an American tour. “We would love to bring it to Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Toronto. We are also discussing Manchester and perhaps Beijing,” says Fevret.

The former boss of Inrocks estimates that The Velvet Underground Experience comes at a good time for New York, “in the face of puritanism and conservatism, which has resurfaced in the US.” He adds that “many young people leave the exhibit saying, ‘It’s the crazy, the freedom we’ve lost.’ They realize that people were more curious and had fewer taboos during that period.”

Source: The French are Leading the Revival of The Velvet Underground in New York – Frenchly

Read more about French Music, from Edith Piaf to Zaz on
Pas De Merde Chanson 101 

Octobre / October

Francis Cabrel “Octobre”

“Le vent fera craquer les branches
La brume viendra dans sa robe blanche
Y aura des feuilles partout
Couchées sur les cailloux
Octobre tiendra sa revanche
Le soleil sortira à peine
Nos corps se cacheront sous des bouts de laine
Perdue dans tes foulards
Tu croiseras le soir
Octobre endormi aux fontaines
Il y aura certainement,
Sur les tables en fer blanc
Quelques vases vides et qui traînent
Et des nuages pris aux antennes
Je t´offrirai des fleurs
Et des nappes en couleurs
Pour ne pas qu´Octobre nous prenne
On ira tout en haut des collines
Regarder tout ce qu´Octobre illumine
Mes mains sur tes cheveux
Des écharpes pour deux
Devant le monde qui s´incline
Certainement appuyés sur des bancs
Il y aura quelques hommes qui se souviennent
Et des nuages pris sur les antennes
Je t´offrirai des fleurs
Et des nappes en couleurs
Pour ne pas qu´Octobre nous prenne
Et sans doute on verra apparaître
Quelques dessins sur la buée des fenêtres
Vous, vous jouerez dehors
Comme les enfants du nord
Octobre restera peut-être.
Vous, vous jouerez dehors
Comme les enfants du nord
Octobre restera peut-être.”

– Francis Cabrel

Jack Kerouac “October in the Railroad Earth”

“There was a little alley in San Francisco back of the Southern 
Pacific station at Third and Townsend in redbrick of drowsy lazy 
afternoons with everybody at work in offices in the air you feel 
the impending rush of their commuter frenzy as soon they’ll be 
charging en masse from Market and Sansome buildings on foot 
and in buses and all well-dressed thru workingman Frisco of 
Walkup ?? truck drivers and even the poor grime-bemarked Third 
Street of lost bums even Negros so hopeless and long left East 
and meanings of responsibility and try that now all they do is 
stand there spitting in the broken glass sometimes fifty in one 
afternoon against one wall at Third and Howard and here’s all 
these Millbrae and San Carlos neat-necktied producers and 
commuters of America and Steel civilization rushing by with San 
Francisco Chronicles and green Call-Bulletins not even enough 
time to be disdainful, they’ve got to catch 130, 132, 134, 136 all 
the way up to 146 till the time of evening supper in homes of the 
railroad earth when high in the sky the magic stars ride above 
the following hotshot freight trains–it’s all in California, it’s all a 
sea, I swim out of it in afternoons of sun hot meditation in my 
jeans with head on handkerchief on brakeman’s lantern or (if not 
working) on book, I look up at blue sky of perfect lostpurity and 
feel the warp of wood of old America beneath me and I* have 
insane conversations with Negroes in second*-story windows 
above and everything is pouring in, the switching moves of 
boxcars in that little alley which is so much like the alleys of 
Lowell and I hear far off in the sense of coming night that engine 
calling our mountains.

But it was that beautiful cut of clouds I could always see above 
the little S.P. alley, puffs floating by from Oakland or the Gate of 
Marin to the north or San Jose south, the clarity of Cal to break 
your heart. It was the fantastic drowse and drum hum of lum 
mum afternoon nathin’ to do, ole Frisco with end of land 
sadness–the people–the alley full of trucks and cars of 
businesses nearabouts and nobody knew or far from cared who I 
was all my life three thousand five hundred miles from birth-O 
opened up and at last belonged to me in Great America.” – Jack Kerouac

The Beats’ Countercultural Ferment Still Bubbles, in Paris – The New York Times

A show at the Pompidou Center in Paris, “Beat Generation: New York, San Francisco, Paris,” is the first major retrospective on the Beats since the 1990s.

Source: The Beats’ Countercultural Ferment Still Bubbles, in Paris – The New York Times

The Beats at Le Pompidou

Kerouac: “Everything belongs to me because I’m poor”

I went to really great exhibition on Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation at Paris’ Pompidou Musee a few days ago. I was pretty nuts about The Beats when I was in my twenties, reading Kerouac’s “On The Road,”Ann Charter’s great biography on Kerouac, Dennis McNally’s excellent “Desolate Angel,” Burroughs, Ginsberg, Snyder, McClure – all of it.

I hadn’t visited these old friends for quite some time, so this experience really took me to a place I’d nearly forgotten, but such an important influence on who I’ve become.

“Everything belongs to me because I’m poor,” read the projected type on the first wall of the exhibit. Was that a quote from Kerouac or St. Francis?

The music playing from different sources along the exhibit was appropriately Bop (Dexter Gorden, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie.) Kerouac was crazy about jazz and hated the stereotyped media portrayal of the bearded beatnik with “folk” guitar and bongos strapped to their backs.

Here’s a video from jazz singer Mark Murphy singing “Parker’s Mood” that includes a piece from Kerouac’s “On The Road” about the first time he heard Charlie Parker play. Fantastic!

Kerouac was very proud of his French Canadian Catholic heritage, and would still speak French when in the presence of his Memere, well after he became the famed, often vilified author. The exhibition had a really cool film of Jack interviewed for French television, with Jack proudly performing his talents as train conductor with a brakeman’s lantern.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/15730877″>Jack Kerouac and the lantern</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/questavita”>questavita</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

There was a display the the teletype paper upon which Kerouac typed the entire manuscript of “On The Road”; wall projections of the cult film “Pull My Daisy” narrated by Jack; clips from Dylan’s film “Renaldo and Clara;” another film clip with Dylan and Ginsberg at a grave site in France (Baudelaire or Rimbaud?) Dylan says, “I want to be buried in an unmarked grave.” “No you don’t,” I thought.

Pompidou Rooftop

I loved the entire Beat Generation exhibit – absolutely awesome. There was also a second exhibit on Paul Klee, as well as sections dedicated to Picasso, Marc Chagal, and others. I’ll be sure to post pictures of these later.

“So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty” – Kerouac/On the Road