1. I’ve mentioned “Wisdom’s Maw” before. It’s a novel (and a website) by Todd Brendan Fahey about the same real-life characters Tom Wolfe wrote about in the “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” That book was a work of journalism, but Fahey’s book is simply fiction, and this frees him to take us on several interesting tangents. We meet Ken Kesey (here called Franklin Moore) as a young would-be novelist discovering LSD while causing trouble among the snooty writers at Stanford’s creative writing program, and we drop in on Big Sur with a sadly out-of-touch Jack Kerouac (who appears under his own name). Much of the book has to do with the mysteries of CIA involvement in early LSD experiments. There may be substance to some of Fahey’s ideas about this, but in any case the book wouldn’t be worth anything if it weren’t an enjoyable reading experience. It is! If you liked “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” check this one out.
2. I saw a really wonderful show last week. Ralph Alphonso, longtime publisher of the beat poetry rag RALPH, did what I’ve always wanted to do: gathered together a few high-spirited pop/folk/jazz musicians and went on tour. They arrived in New York to play CBGB’s Gallery last week (parenthetically,
check out the new CBGB’s website if you’re interested in this legendary punk club), and put on a superb show. Ralph’s style is kitschy on the outside but sincere within, and this is the way I like it (as opposed to the reverse: sincere on the outside but kitschy within, like, say, Sting’s solo albums). I think the tour is already nearing an end, but please visit Ralph’s website, where you can hear samples of his music, order his CD’s or subscribe to his one-man zine.
3. A huge poetry/beat renaissance/spoken word festival in New Orleans starts this week. Here’s the latest schedule.