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January 25, 2000
Upon viewing "the Source".
Not tremendously disappointed,
but not amazingly impressed.
Getting Hollywood actors to do
readings of beat poets over
Chronology was screwy in places, canned music wasn't as stupid
lots of little things to complain as that sounds.
One of the biggest little things:
When they get to San Francisco,
they open with a zoom-in on the Back in the days
Transamerica pyramid. of the original
beats, this site
Or how about this one: housing where a
lot of them lived.
"the women were just ornaments"
"they all looked the same, you It was called Monkey Clay
couldn't tell them apart". (after the intersection,
Montgomery & Clay) and
many of them were angry
Try reading to see it get ripped down.
"Women of the
Beat Generation" A Gary Snyder poem
and see if you calls the pyramid
feel the same way. "an arrogant
and wasteful building".
One problem is that there
are at least two beats:
(1) a half dozen friends
who met in New York, or
perhaps a few dozen poets
under the wing of Rexroth
in San Francisco;
(2) the mass phenomena,
the post "On the Road"
craze, the icon of the
goatee and beret.
Both of these are real,
but different and only (But it isn't clear to me that
loosely connected. "Neal Cassady" was any less of
a media creation than "Maynard
The movie doesn't always make
clear which period it's
talking about... maybe they
don't know the difference?
The thesis of the movie, based on
some quotations from Burroughs and
Snyder, is that the "beat movement"
is still active, that the various
all have their roots in the Beats.
This is not a bad thesis...
but maybe it makes it hard
for them to grasp the kind
of distinction I'm making here.
The usual model for understanding
this is "authentic early pioneers"
vs. "inauthentic latecomer poseurs".
But if they knew what they were
talking about, they'd know that
there were women who were
definitely part of beat #1, but
they just didn't make it through
the fifties reality filters into
beat #2, so instead you got the
chicks in the black leotards.
(Not that there's
with chicks in And after all, how many of
black leotards.) us today can grasp what
torment the soul of a
teenage girl endured in 1959
before donning the ritual
tights, and strutting the
On the plus side, "The Source" includes:
A little blip of
John Cage doing (offered as evidence that
"Water Music". there was more happening in
the 50s than the beat poets).
A bunch of Ed Sanders
Fair amount of the oft
ignored Gary Snyder. (Who had the poor taste
not to die young like a
good bad-boy hero is
The elder Ken Kesey gushing
about the coolness of Neal
Cassady and The Road.
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