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The Beats: A Graphic History


You read this and then the penny drops. It is from the beats that Harvey Pekar got his writing style.
The Beats: A Graphic History by Harvey Pekar, Nancy J. Peters, Penelope Rosemont, Joyce Brabner, Trina Robbins, Tuli Kupferberg, Paul Buhle (Editor), Summer McClinton (Illustrator) ,Peter Kuper (Illustrator), Mary Fleener (Illustrator), Jerome Neukirch(Illustrator), Anne Timmons (Illustrator), Gary Dumm (Illustrator), Lance Tooks (Illustrator), Jeffrey Lewis (Illustrator), Ed Piskor (Illustrator), Jay Kinney (Illustrator), Nick Thorkelson (Illustrator)
And Harvey wrote real good, engaging dialogue and narrative.

Me, I'm no friend of the Beats. Arrogant self centred poseurs full of their own self importance....but who sometimes happened to write well. I say that because I luv the poetry of Allen Ginsberg....and if the pitch here is correct and the dead hand of Beatdom lasted into the late sixties, then I too am caught up because I was an aficionado of The Fugs.

The story told here is nonetheless a very thoughtful cultural history built around a succession of profiles and as a social documentation of a phenomenon -- no doubt due to Paul Buhle's input -- this is a very useful history which fleshes out and peoples the post war avaunt gardism.

But since so many Beats were macho assholes, Joyce Brabner's graphic essay on Beat "Chicks" reminds us how misogynistic they were.

(What Patti Smith saw in William S. Burroughs I don't know!)

I told you I don't like them, right. Go find heroes elsewhere, says I....

But if you listen delighted to The Fugs or read Howl today , spare me/spare us The Naked Lunch or On the Road . For me though, the context that fostered the Beats into being also encouraged a broader improvisational style of writing, performance and presentation and it is disingenuous to allow the self conscious, self-labeling "Beats" ownership of the copyright.

The stand up of Lenny Bruce, the journalism of Hunter S. Thompson -- indeed so much of the sixties cultural experimentation -- was a Beaty as as any self employed registered Beat professional laid claim to. 

Their source was drugs, jazz and the times that were "a'changin"...not an adding machine guy (William S. Burroughs ) -- in a particular period of a post war economic boom and a pervasive Red Scare.

But if you want to engage further with the Beats and explore their existence -- this comic is a great place to begin

 

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