The Beats

17 Aug

i’ve always loathed the beats
it’s awful writing by awful poets
who’d rather sit in somewhere
in protest of some shitty inconsequential social issue
(a corporate-driven directive anyway aimed at squeezing profits)
drink and smoke and wax poetic about man’s plight
as seen through some Buddhist or Hindu karmic experience
Kerouac’s On the Road was the biggest waste of my time
and the first run i had at Ginsberg’s Howl
i asked the powers that be for my twenty minutes back
i re-visited the beats from time to time in the last two decades
to make sure i wasn’t just a stupid kid
who’d spent too much time smoking cheeba out of dime bags
and mulling over CamusKafkaKunderaPinkFloyd
and yes they were still awful
in their rebellion against (insert cause here) the society
which they later joined
they wrote airy thin impractical solutions
theoretical ideas of travelling around aimlessly of finding beauty in the ugly
and the destitute people who were truly fighting poverty
and living in cardboard boxes looking for work
they romanticized a struggling bigoted America
while speeding through the burnt out countryside in well-oiled convertibles
hopped trains like hobos
backed by mother’s bank account in St. Petersburg Florida
someone happened to clump Bukowski in with the beats
i never understood why anyone would make this egregious mistake
he was about as far away from the beats
as they were from reality and good honest writing
there is nothing musical about the beats
added to the mix of Miles and Mingus and Dolphy and Coltrane and Blakey
they spoil the tunes they muddy them up with incomprehensible language
they destroy the pure ideas within the mode the key the entire number
i just re-read Howl last week
and although an atheist now
upon finishing the interminable indecipherable work of art piece
i appealed once more to the powers that be
to grant me back my twenty minutes
knowing full well Einstein’s definition of insanity

in 2005 Kerouac’s original manuscript for On the Road
was on tour around the country
in the summer of that year a friend and i headed out
to the University of North Carolina’s library to view the work
for those who don’t know
Kerouac wrote the book on an entire, large scroll
which the reader would unravel as he went along further and further
on Kerouac’s cross country trip
i found it quite apropos for the draft
to be written on what really is a giant roll of toilet paper.


22 Responses to “The Beats”

  1. Brandon 17/08/2010 at 7:19 AM #

    Nice. Nice ending, too. I laughed, because as soon as I read that you were reading Howl again, I thought of what Einstein calls insanity.

  2. Lx 17/08/2010 at 7:51 AM #

    That is one of the most intensely-studied pieces of literature (outside of Shakespeare) that I know of. I cannot possibly imagine the bullshit academic mumbo-jumbo that is spewed over those insufferable few pages of muck. I clump in Ginsberg’s poetry with Sylvia Plath’s. All convoluted, nonsensical, tangential, flowery shite.

  3. Matt DeBenedictis 17/08/2010 at 8:24 AM #

    Very nice.

    For the time On the Road was stellar, a fucking gold fist to the back of the head of all that was out there of dribbling words, but it doesn’t hold any weight over time. Many of the beat writers wrote into a bubble that way, of course this is what my un-educated ass gathers.

  4. Lx 17/08/2010 at 8:35 AM #

    i don’t know; the shit seems thin for me even for those times. but maybe it was America that way…melancholic and full of verve and pep. there are many people bouncing around our times now laying down the same kind of visionary bullshit, all the while going down with a sinking ship, you know? like: America is the greatest country in the world! yea, heh? all while being flushed down into the sewage system. so who knows…maybe this is the real American dream, albeit more preposterous than ever: optimism. just a few months ago i was outlining all the crap we’re dealing with now and how basically we’re running out of resources and my friend said: “i truly believe our kids will figure it all out.” our kids are fucking watching Disney and playing with Barbies. our kids can’t read. they’re eating shit and rotting from the insides. and they’ll figure it all out. auf auf! someone ought to write a book: “Made in America: The Story of the Idiot”

  5. Matt DeBenedictis 17/08/2010 at 8:45 AM #

    In terms of On The Road what to me was America was his rebellion, his run for a real life was a very trite and boring one. To me that holds up as the American response to everything — pure boredom.

    The children won’t want to fix anything until texting goes out.

    Comedian Doug Stanhope put it well when describing how the coming generations are weaker and weaker. “The closest this generation has come to a fist fight is arguing on a message board.

    “Did I just catch you looking at my girl? Well I’m gonna block you from my friends list!”

  6. Lx 17/08/2010 at 9:01 AM #

    true that. in reality it took Kerouac decades of dilly-dallying with the “grass is greener” issue, evident in his constant shifting between Mass., Florida, California, Mexico, etc. i know many consider that a sort of restlessness that staved off boredom or a way to keep ahead of a mediocre “stable” life somewhere in the burbs. i don’t necessarily agree. good stuff comes out of the most quiet out of the way places. i think Voltaire (or Baudelaire or one of those “aires”) once said something like: ‘beware the rage of the quiet settled man’ (paraphrasing here)

    also, i’m all for going back to switchblades, maces, and sharp Samurai swords. slinging junk on Facebook or blogs anonymously is just simply lame.

  7. Lx 17/08/2010 at 9:13 AM #

    and don’t even get me going on Dean Moriarty (“Neal Cassady”) and his buffoonery.

  8. valerie 17/08/2010 at 9:54 AM #

    hi. i heart kerouac. i have no formal education. hi.

  9. Lx 17/08/2010 at 10:05 AM #

    well that’s that. i’m blocking you from my friends list.

  10. valerie 17/08/2010 at 10:09 AM #

    omg. blacklisted! what to wear, what to wear ; )

  11. vibes01 18/08/2010 at 7:50 AM #

    ““Did I just catch you looking at my girl? Well I’m gonna block you from my friends list!”

    im not even sure what half the stuff means up above, but who cares…sometimes intellectualising movements just makes you one of them….*points over there*

  12. Lx 18/08/2010 at 8:41 AM #

    Vibes, that’s the point…there’s no intellectualizing the Beats. I do recognize the ‘movement’ for what it was; for what most of what art during that time was: optimism, naivete, mysticism, a weird fascination with Hindi customs, psychedelics (bit later), an ultimate useless sense of achievement. I don’t much forget that most of the people fighting the establishment during those days, ultimately joined it and handed down the crap that we’re dealing with now. But I digress.

  13. vibes01 18/08/2010 at 9:06 AM #

    thanks for clearing up …i know not what i do….

    but, if it isnt about intellectualising it (even im getting confused which side of the fence im sitting on now)…then how can they be anti establishment? if its all about the hip wriggling, groin pounding groove…baby…oh yeh *put on dark shades and smile that toffy smile*

    and anyway, isnt art all about expresses unreality into reality ..which means from primal to external (which means passing the intellectual highway in order for us to process) – like subjective validation or some shit…

    who knows! *throws hands in air* ;)

  14. vibes01 18/08/2010 at 9:07 AM #

    ps. if anyone care to let me know which side im arguing for i would greatly appreciated it….

  15. Lx 18/08/2010 at 9:19 AM #

    Well now I’m lost too. I have no idea what I’m saying, now reading your analysis. Hey man…here’s the rub: I don’t dig it. The end.

  16. vibes01 18/08/2010 at 10:38 AM #

    HAHA! your great!

  17. Letitia 20/08/2010 at 1:48 AM #


  18. Lx 20/08/2010 at 6:23 AM #

    thanks. this is probably more a comment than a piece of fiction.

  19. anna antic 21/08/2010 at 1:26 PM #

    I dug the Beats when I was in high school. Maybe still a little bit in college. Seemed appropriate at the time. Then I quit doing drugs. Suddenly I realized I’d spent all those years fucking up my brain and reading shit. There’s something to be said for clean and sober living.

  20. vibes01 21/08/2010 at 3:11 PM #

    not too much though anna….lets be a teensy bit realistic here eh…. ;)

  21. Karen 23/08/2010 at 7:13 PM #

    You’re awesome! I think you should create music AND teach. :)

  22. Lx 23/08/2010 at 7:54 PM #

    oh no no, i cannot teach anything. never could.

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