Beat News: October 1 1996

1. Jesse Crumb, the son of the superb underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, has illustrated a pack of Beat trading cards, published by Kitchen Sink Press and available at good bookstores or comic book shops. The cards depict Beat writers, jazz musicians and other personalities, including some unexpected choices like Babs Gonzales, Miles Davis, Tuli Kupferberg and Mort Sahl. Interestingly, Jack Kerouac is not present but only alluded to, as if to proclaim his holy status. The drawings are in the classic Crumb style, and are quite beautiful.

2. There are a LOT of beat festivals and happenings going on. Let’s see … the University of Kansas is hosting “A Festival: William S. Burroughs and the Arts” from late October through Jan 1 1997. There will be some interesting guests; here’s the press release. The University of Texas at Austin is running a show called “Beat: The Hip Highways and Bebop Byways of Modern American Letters.” A San Francisco/SOMA month-long festival called Re/BEAT looks like a lot of fun — here’s their calendar. The Whitney Museum exhibit “Beat Culture and the New America” is also coming to San Francisco on October 5th. It will be at the M. H. DeYoung Memorial Museum through December 29. Allen Ginsberg is doing October readings around the country, including San Francisco and New York. Finally, don’t forget the annual Kerouac festival in Lowell, Massachusetts. Featured guests include Ed Sanders and musician Rob Buck, formerly of 10000 Maniacs.

3. Going out on a limb here: 90’s writer Douglas Coupland is not a beat writer by any means. And I know about the gag impulse naturally caused by writers who try too hard to “capture a generation” (yuck). Still, I read Coupland’s “Microserfs” and I liked it. I don’t care whether it captures deep generational
truths or not — it’s an enjoyable and poignant story, and the author does have some clue what the life of a software developer is like (believe me, I know). Anyway, the reason I mention all this is that Coupland now has
his own website. It’s worth a look.

Another somewhat Coupland-esque new site is Carl Steadman’s enigmatic Placing, which looks affectionately at the packaged products that
define our personal lives more than we often think. I hope Carl doesn’t get mad at me for calling him

4. I heard there’ll be a Kerouac tribute album coming out soon, with a lot of excellent participants including Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Sonic Youth. This is all on the level of rumour right now — can anyone tell me more?

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