The Litkicks Board Archive

In January 2001, I was playing around with some Java software at work when I heard the poet Gregory Corso had died. I decided to try this new software out by putting up a Corso tribute board, and this is how the LitKicks boards were born.

The boards grew and evolved into a massive social experiment, often taking on a life of their own. Last July, 684,000 messages later, Caryn and Jamelah and I decided to shut down the boards and redesign the entire site for a more focused, literary experience. We’ve been getting hate mail ever since. Take, for instance, this charming missive that recently arrived: “You should know that you have singlehandedly destroyed a great community. I could never have guessed that you would commit such a selfish and domineering act to people who were your friends, by which I include myself.”

The truth is, we like getting hate mail because it makes us feel like someone cares what we do. But, in fact, it was a very difficult decision for us to change the site, and I guess it was my own techie pride that prevented me from revealing one major reason we had to make this change. By the summer of last year, the board software was falling apart.

Once healthy and fast, the system was choking on its backlog of data, and it could take two or three minutes to pull up a message more than a few months old. In early 2004, many of us tried to read through the old boards to find the best poems and stories to use in the Action Poetry book, and this was when it became clear how bad the situation had become. Any message over a year old had been lost in a cold oblivion, from which it might be coaxed out if the software felt like it. I had always viewed the boards as a literary experiment, but literature is something that endures through time, and the software wasn’t letting this happen.

In fact, I work as a web systems architect, and I know how to build scalable community software that can elegantly handle massive amounts of traffic. But LitKicks wasn’t built that way. I had never set up the infrastructure required to handle the level of activity we were getting on this site, and by the summer of 2004 LitKicks was a Titanic waiting to sink. If you ever tried to read a LitKicks page and saw a Java error — well, yeah, that was the iceberg peeking through the hull.

I liked the old boards a lot. There was a creative anarchy there, and a real spirit of fun. But there was also an overriding mood of underachievement, a sort of prevailing “dumb chic” (no doubt inspired by Charles Bukowski, the epitome of dumb chic), that seemed like a creative dead end. Occasional moments of genius cropped up on one board or another, but there were also long stretches of depressing banality. By the spring of 2004 I wasn’t sure if I wanted to rebuild the existing site with a different software package or instead come up with an all new format, a new beginning for LitKicks. I asked Jamelah and Caryn if either of them felt remotely satisfied with the boards, and when they both told me they didn’t, the decision seemed clear: shake things up, try something new.

The new LitKicks is still “finding itself”, I think. The public reaction to the board shutdown was more negative than I’d expected, and I think some people are still warming up to the new format, which is designed to move slower and generate more thoughtful writings and conversations. But LitKicks has been around for more than ten years, and the site is designed to change, to evolve, to do surprising things. The current version is our latest attempt at being what we should be, but we’re not going to rest or stop here, just as we’ve never stopped at any of our previous incarnations.

As for the old boards, I’m happy to tell you that I’ve moved them all to a brand new archive server, designed to be fast and error-free. Here it is, for all posterity: the permanent LitKicks Board Archive.

Looking back at this vast array of human-generated spontaneous content, I have to wonder, what does it all mean? There are over a hundred thousand poems here, for instance … but what do they all add up to in the larger scheme of things? How can these poems be read? What significance does yesterday’s stream of literary ephemera hold today, if any?

I was very proud when the Library of Congress included posts from various LitKicks boards in September and October 2001 in their web archive of that moment in history. But what about the rest of this huge mass of content? I am really not sure what good this archive is, and for that matter I am still not exactly sure what good LitKicks is. I’d like to hear what you think, and I’d like to know whether or not you think these old boards are worth archiving at all, and why.

I also wanted to explain why I left two of the more popular (but less literary) LitKicks boards out of the permanent archive. It was a hard decision not to migrate Mindless Chatter to the new server. But this board had about three times as many messages as any other LitKicks board, and while most of it certainly was mindless, I really didn’t find that much of it was timeless. We had laughs on this board, but you probably had to be there, and you can’t be there anymore, so Mindless Chatter didn’t make it to the archive.

I felt less ambivalent about my decision not to move the Flames board into the archive. This actually felt good to me. During the 42 months of the LitKicks Boards Experience, I often had to remind writers that the point of LitKicks wasn’t to help strangers dislike each other, but to help them like each other. Flames was a fun place (some of my own best posts showed up there, I think) … but I am not going to pay disk charges to store hatred and misunderstanding. Both these commodities are cheap, and readily available elsewhere.

Anyway, I do have text-file backups of these boards, along with the others, so nothing is lost to posterity. I hope you’ll go visit the LitKicks Board Archive in its new home, and I think you’ll agree with me that there’s a hell of a lot of interesting stuff there. Thanks for being part of it, if you were. And whether you were or not … hang around, and help us figure out what the current version of LitKicks is supposed to evolve into.

72 Responses

  1. My K.I.S.S. ResponseWhat I
    My K.I.S.S. Response

    What I liked most about Litkicks in its old form was that it connected me with a community of people who cared about books, poetry, literature, etc. This was refreshing because most of the world doesn’t give a damn.

    Sure, a lot of stuff was dumb, I dunno how chic played into it, but it was a great exercise in writing and thinking for everyone. I don’t know exactly what significance the archives have, but I know they’re far more important than say, an old cork from a bottle of wine.

    That being said, you’re not the Kremlin, lurking over a community of people promising to usher them & their needs from cradle to grave. I don’t think you have any responsibility to maintain the Litkicks community in any form, but I’m happy that ya’ll do.

  2. Hate Email/EvolutionI can’t
    Hate Email/Evolution

    I can’t believe people sent nasty emails to you guys! Fucking ingrates!

    Personally, I like the change (isn’t that what the web is all about? hastening change?). I think LitKicks has evolved into something more sophisticated. Ideally, I’d like to see LitKicks evolve into a force in mainstream publishing, which, of course, takes time/persistence/connections/et al. Easier said than done. But I would love to see LitKicks continue to evolve and become a gateway, or a foot-in-the-door, for writers into mainstream publishing.

  3. TornI like the new Litkicks,

    I like the new Litkicks, but at the same time I miss the old boards. It was fun scrolling through the poems and stories until finding one that caught my eye. Dare I say the experience of the old boards was
    … organic?

    So yes, that experience is gone, and I lament its passing, but I also agree that it would be wonderful to see Litkicks morph into more useful and energetic stepping stones for writers. In particular I thought the Indie Writing & Publishing board held great promise in this regard.

    Honestly, right now, I think the site is stuck in growing pains, adolescence or puberty or something. I’m not sure I understand what the purpose of Litkicks currently is, as opposed to what it was before. It definitely feels less spontaneous than it did before, and a part of me misses that.

  4. Time May Change MeI
    Time May Change Me

    I discovered Litkicks when I was looking for something else, but I’m glad I found it. The old boards were a unique experience. But I’m glad Litkicks was around, in the first place. It has probably encouraged people to take their writing further, or, to allow them to enjoy to write anonymously. I have learned a lot from people here, about books, and I am not even a Literature major. It’s true, most people in the real world don’t give a damn. I am glad I have been able to converse with people from England to China on similar literary subjects and other stuff. And the archives are a good thing if you were there before to look and see how you’ve grown as a writer. But anyway, I’m glad the boards are still around, even if it’s different.

  5. Thanks, Pelerine. I think
    Thanks, Pelerine. I think that’s a very good appraisal.

    About “dumb chic”, I guess I’m just kidding about that, except that it did sometimes seem like everybody here wanted to talk about anything *but* literature. I got the feeling a lot of people who hung out here were a lot smarter than they were pretending to be. If that makes sense …

  6. That’s really nice to hear,
    That’s really nice to hear, KKizer. And you know we always really appreciated the articles you wrote about haiku, Hunter, etc. It’s nice to see you still coming around.

  7. Thanks for the comments,
    Thanks for the comments, Stevadore. I think you’re right about the growing pains, and adolescence sounds about right. I remember when I was growing up that a quiet phase would sometimes be vital. But, quiet or noisy, phases is what they are.

    About the Indie Writing & Publishing board — yeah, I was definitely sorry to see that one go, and the Poetry & Politics board too. But on the other hand, the Indies board moved pretty slowly, and the Politics board was starting to divide into camps and lapse into rehearsed routines. They were both good, but I’m not going to say they were as good as I wanted them to be.

    Anyway, though, I do appreciate your honest comments about this.

  8. Thanks, Andeh — it’s been
    Thanks, Andeh — it’s been great having you here too …

  9. from behind drawn curtainsI
    from behind drawn curtains

    I must say, I miss the old boards too. Although I never participated as much as I felt I should… (I am more of a reader than a writer)… I was always there… peeping out from behind the curtains at life going by on the street… observing the hustle and bustle, the action and reactions all from a safe distance, occasionally sticking in my two cents worth when I wanted. It was exciting… enjoyable… spontaneous… and I

  10. the boards …… were very
    the boards …

    … were very cool.

    Like freedom they could be easily abused and taken for granted.

    Maybe we weren’t writing Shakespeare, but we were writing. I think it was more than glorified chat — a collaborative connection across time and distance. I think people felt they were part of something and enjoyed it.

    I could see your frustration building with its success as it was not being used as you had wanted.

    I’d like to thank you for all you’ve done here and for letting me be a part of it.

  11. ‘…what good LitKicks is.”1.
    ‘…what good LitKicks is.”

    1. Thirteen people contributed to the last story competition.

    2. The indie publishing stuff sounds choice! Sales channels! Distribution! It gives me–to use a euphenism–an ecstatic feeling.

    3. A self-styled literary hipster/ neo-beat forwarded this website’s URL sometime before 11 April 2002. I returned occasionally to read, to contribute an article and then post excerpts from my first novel. Writing here has improved my focus, ignoring the above remarks.

    4. As for “what the current version of LitKicks is supposed to evolve into”: Having belonged to a writer’s group once before, I am not interested in bullshit sessions focused on one-up-manship or getting loaded literally or literary-wise, but getting something real done. Also, like Jack London who saw writing as a way out of poverty, so do I. Everyone I know in the USA only considers writing successful if it sells. Novels are the only choice I can see for me–no contacts in journalism and they say, to paraphrase Emerson, write the next great American novel and the world will beat a path to the door of your apartment, but lack good primo-product now, and got to get cracking on the current which is a lot more of the before but just keep getting the stuff out the door and do new and different.

    6. I hate my present gig and this URL has been a lifeline since October. I’ll have a new life in late June/early July and really, really can’t wait because of the nothingness of my current non-existence.

    7. Can’t the former “great community” still exist in this format? Where did the “great community” go? What was so special? What’s so wrong now? Am I a part of a “great community”, i.e., other than being an American expat-bum writer-poseur?

  12. Hey Mob — good to see you.
    Hey Mob — good to see you. I think that’s a pretty accurate and fair assessment. Things are a bit slower and we do sometimes miss the old crazy days and the pace. But then again, we’re also enjoying the slower, more thoughtful pace too. As always, we still have a lot we want to do yet, and we may try to incorporate a little of the old style into some of those things.

    I will have to admit that one of my favorite moments on the previous incarnation of the boards was “The flame for J”, which I believe I saved a copy of. That always gave me a good laugh. Thanks.

  13. What a Wonderful
    What a Wonderful Archive


    So organized and quick to click into. This is brilliant. Walking through utterances of 2001 is really like taking a stroll through past goodtimes.

    It’s all evolving, a gentle moving sidewalk with lots of detours.

    Great work, Levi.

  14. I agree with everything
    I agree with everything warrenweappa says here. I feel almost exactly the same way. The only thing I might change in this assessement is, I’m hoping short story collections get to be as popular as novels.

  15. judih, while you’re walking
    judih, while you’re walking through there, let me know if you find my Enrique Iglesias CD.

  16. wouldn’t swear on it, but i
    wouldn’t swear on it, but i heard a soft croon five minutes ago

    p.s. walking through action poetry, march 2001 and rediscovering the excitement of discovering word jamming

  17. Archives, monkeys &
    Archives, monkeys & evolution

    I enjoyed a lot the old board format, even though I read only the Action Poetry and Poetry boards for some months. I don

  18. Literary LifelineI’m not
    Literary Lifeline

    I’m not exaggerating when I say Litkicks was like a life-line to me. I was working a dead-end job which I didn’t like and didn’t seem to have the energy to pursue writing any longer, even though I’ve wanted to write since I was a child. Microsoft Word was certainly an improvement over trudging through caked-on liquid paper or stopping altogether when the typewriter ribbon ran dry, but Word didn’t show me pictures of William S. Burroughs in jail or a bunch of semi-wild people from different parts of the country converging for a poetry reading at the Bowery Poetry Club. Litkicks showed me those things and more. Remember novalark? Man, he would post some great quotes from Burroughs that made me want to go out and get the books. And Cecil would always be philosophizing on Sunday morning. Judih met Graham Seidman and wrote about it. Jota met Ray Bradbury and wrote about that. Levi was hangin’ out with Amram, man!

    One Saturday evening after I mowed the lawn, I sat down at my new computer for the usual spell of writer’s block . Remembering some of the books I had read in my more carefree days, and decided search the web for Jack Kerouac. That’s how I found Litkicks.

    Not only have I met some really great people – too many to list here – I also got back into writing. There was something refreshing about the Litkicks approach; not that they invited sloppy work exactly, but they understood the “screw it” attitude one must sometimes have just to get started. I identified with something Levi wrote about an experience he had in a writing class; his early enthusiasm had been stifled by too many people trying to tell him how to edit his piece. Not that it’s wrong to edit or rewrite, but sometimes you gotta go with your heart.

    Because of Litkicks, I’ve gotten back into reading & writing to the point that these activities have replaced a rather detrimental drinking habit which I had developed in the absence of any creative outlet.

    I don’t mind when Litkicks changes, as long as they at least leave some link to the past for “old-time’s sake.” I would definitely not do away with the articles & genres board! I don’t say this because I have articles there, but because it is probably the way most people find Litkicks.

    p.s. – I still work at the same bogus job but the 8 hour days go by faster now that I have a life.

  19. Is that title from the Bowie
    Is that title from the Bowie song?

    “Oh yeah
    Still don’t know what I was waiting for
    And my time was running wild
    A million dead-end streets and
    Every time I thought I’d got it made
    It seemed the taste was not so sweet
    So I turned myself to face me
    But I’ve never caught a glimpse
    Of how the others must see the faker
    I’m much too fast to take that test

    (turn and face the strain)
    Don’t want to be a richer man
    (turn and face the strain)
    Just gonna have to be a different man
    Time may change me
    But I can’t trace time

    I watch the ripples change their size
    But never leave the stream
    Of warm impermanence
    So the days float through my eyes
    But stil the days seem the same
    And these children that you spit on
    As they try to change their worlds
    Are immune to your consultations
    They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

    (turn and face the strain)
    Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
    (turn and face the strain)
    Where’s your shame
    You’ve left us up to our necks in it
    Time may change me
    But you can’t trace time

    Strange fascination, fascinating me
    Ah changes are taking the pace I’m going through

    (turn and face the strain)
    Oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers
    (turn and face the strain)
    Pretty soon now you’re gonna get a little older
    Time may change me
    But I can’t trace time
    I said that time may change me
    But I can’t trace time”
    Changes, by David Bowie

  20. The Impulse to
    The Impulse to Destroy…

    …Is also a creative impulse. Or something like that.

    Hey, nobody should be upset that the Mindless boards didn’t make the cut more than me, and I find myself not really caring at all. It’s the internet … evolution is the key. And anyone who actually took the time to send hate-mail (God, I hope I wasn’t a hate-mailer, but one does funny things during blackouts) needs to get a life before they forever turn into a potato.

    The boards were like a little kid, and now, it’s as if the site has grown up and therefore become more relevant. I mean, kids can be fun sometimes, but let’s face it … kids are idiots. Adults are way cooler, even if they occasionally have to make concessions.

    At any rate, I’ve lost track of my point.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a half bottle of vodka in my desk and an operations meeting to attend.


  21. Good try, Bill, but you were
    Good try, Bill, but you were one of the exceptions to that rule. You are *always* up for talking about literature, and that’s one reason we’re always glad to have you around. I think you’re as much a lit geek as I am.

  22. Hey Mob — I think this is a
    Hey Mob — I think this is a pretty fitting analogy. And it’s always nice to see you when you do post.

  23. And then feral paid me a
    And then feral paid me a dollar to kick you. Ah, good times.

    I’m glad that you’ve brought your enthusiasm for books and writing to this site. It’s infectious. Like a rash. But a good kind of rash. So not really like a rash at all, then. You know.

  24. …you make it sound like
    …you make it sound like turning into a potato would be a bad thing.

  25. Narrative sells. The short
    Narrative sells. The short story collections don’t. The mass of book-buyers buy novel length narratives, which I believe sell in bookstores, a distribution channel must remember.

  26. Speaking of dumb chic, where
    Speaking of dumb chic, where is feral these days? I still owe him five bucks, you know.

  27. I haven’t heard from him
    I haven’t heard from him since November or thereabouts, so your guess is as good as mine. Maybe he fell down a mineshaft or he’s in rehab or something.

  28. Very interesting post, WW —
    Very interesting post, WW — it’s illuminating to have you spell out why you come here. And, I think those are exactly the reasons I hope people will come here. So: good to have you!

    A few detailed comments —

    — We’ll bring back the Indie Marketplace thing, in one form or another, maybe very very soon. Working on it now.

    — I think about the novel form a lot too. In fact I spent lunch hour at B&N today, looking for a new novel to read. Walked away empty-handed, though. Almost all my favorite books are novels, I hope the format can reawaken, and I hope you can help, WW.

    — Believe me, we’re aware of the importance of bookstores. We are still trying to get “Action Poetry” picked up by a major distributor. But we want to do this right, and we’re taking our time finding the right arrangement — I am sure this will pay off in time. I would love to find a way to give LitKicks writers a regular presence on store shelves. That is an example of the type of long-term goal we’ve been working toward all along. But books a slow-moving, slow-changing business. This is a fact I’m painfully aware of right now.

    — I think it’s still a great community!

  29. Funny, Bill … real funny
    Funny, Bill … real funny …

    Judih, I feel the same way as you — to review this stuff after the passage of time is an amazing experience. At least for me it is. But I’ve always been a fool for the “patina” the passage of time puts on any artistic work. For instance, I am the only person I know who actually watched all four DVD’s of the the recently released 1985 “Live Aid” and thought every minute of it was brilliant.

    What I really enjoy is picking a random month on one of the writing boards and seeing the mix of old faces, new faces and strange drop-ins that make up that month’s mix.

  30. Jim Vinny Coleman … I
    Jim Vinny Coleman … I really did think of you when I wrote about Mindless, and I mumbled to myself “Hope that Vinny guy understands”. You made Mindless a better place, and we’re always happy to have you drop a pearl of your particular wisdom into our current conversations too …

  31. Ha ha … “speaking of dumb
    Ha ha … “speaking of dumb chic” …

    You’re on a roll today, Billectric.

  32. Thanks Arcadia. Hope you’ll
    Thanks Arcadia. Hope you’ll keep dropping by and keep teaching us interesting words.

    Yeah, who are your favorite writers …

  33. Billectric, I don’t remember
    Billectric, I don’t remember much about it. They created some kind of permanent exhibit out of a bunch of web pages during Sept and Oct 2001, and they included a bunch of extracts from our boards. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying very close attention when they told me about this (those were crazy days and I was pretty dizzy) and I don’t know where to find the exhibit now.

    Also, a bunch of LitKicks Action Poems were featured in a book about Sept 11 edited by Allan Cohen in San Francisco.

  34. On-Demand BeatnessLevi, this
    On-Demand Beatness

    Levi, this situation calls for a globally, on-demand distributed network of servers to ensure scalability, reliability, security, optimal site performance and availabity of 99.999% uptime for the ultimate beatness continuety.

    Glad to see the boards saved, the good ones at least. Sad the infrastucture architechture was crashing.

    I would deliver your content for you but my company just got bought out by the evil direct point competitor, who shall remain nameless, but sloths in Cambridge.

    In the meantime, thank you for this site.

    Keep evolving. You’re doing the right thing.


  35. Change is GoodWhen the boards
    Change is Good

    When the boards changed, I was surprised at first, mainly because of the suddenness of it. But I decided to give it a shot, even amongst all the negativity that was going on at the time, and still goes on sometimes. I’m glad I did, because I really like the new format, even if I don’t have the time to be around much these days.

    I’m also glad you left the boards that you did out of the archives. Any nuggets that might be there are too deeply hidden to make it worthwhile. But those boards served their purpose at the time, no doubt. But I’m glad they’re gone, because I got sucked into them.

    I’m still amazed when I read negative thoughts on the change, as if the site was communal (which it was, but only in a sense). But I don’t think you want to focus on that here.

    Keep on keeping on, to steal a phrase. I’ll be lurking in the shadows and throwing in my bits here and there, and more often when I can.

    But bring back those workshops!

  36. I miss HolyGoof.This
    I miss HolyGoof.

    This definitely does not belong here, but are you interested in getting hammered at my place this Thursday, Jim? You would need to bring your guitar.

  37. I think the secret is: Keep
    I think the secret is: Keep one foot in Litkicks and the other foot in “doing your own thing.” When the two come together, it’s stupendous.

  38. Just for KicksWell, I guess
    Just for Kicks

    Well, I guess you know how I feel about losing the old Litkicks board format. I owe a lot to you and what Litkicks was. Before I started peeking over mtmynds’ shoulder and then writing there myself, I had no idea that I could actually write anything other than a grant application.

    I miss the old terribly (not enough to send hate mail) and I know change is inevitable. This new format is not my style at all. Listing a subject or an article and having the readers respond seems rather limited and stifling and not at all like the freedom of the previous incarnation. But that’s just me…

    Anyway, I am glad you decided to archive the old. It is fun to go back and read but still brings a certain poignancy to this reader. There are a few regrets, many wonderful moments and still, some grief at what is no longer.

    I have found and explored other outlets but I must say, the beauty of the original is hard to replicate. Life goes on…

    Possibilities await and I will stay tuned.

  39. ArchivesThe archives deleted

    The archives deleted some things, as you said and kept others. I was dismayed that the archives deleted my Ken Kesey tribute, which was one of the first poems I got published on your LitKicks site. I posted it late in May 2004. The posts for Kesey were only kept until 2002…Oh well. Things go out of print, if you could call it that.

    Is it okay to resubmit in the future? I was using your site as a credit for that poem, which I do for all the poems I get published online here.

    I guess now I should say “It was published on May, 2004, and is now off-line or out of print.” I have other stuff which is now out of print,too.

    Speaking of which, I enjoyed the ACTION POETRY, of which I was a late contributor. Has it sold enough to go into a second printing yet?

  40. that last statement is the
    that last statement is the bottom line, ain’t it great to go back after all this time indeed j-man…

  41. timelessness never gets
    timelessness never gets old

    Going thru the ‘archives’ is so difficult for me… such a brilliant piece of, how can i say it – “cyber-architecture”..? Yeah!, a wonderful feel to the whole place… and such a shame (can i use that word…?) that it was dismantled. I see that old place as a great, no, really great, spot in a city of sameness that was just leveled for another parking lot.

    Not to belittle your attempts at improvements, Levi, but seriously, what we call the ‘old litkicks’ was never old and looking back at those past postings, it reinforced my feelings that what you had was a piece of (again) timeless cyber-architecture that should have stood the test of time but instead was rebuilt into just another site, altho the survivors to some extent have remained in dreams of the past.

    I ask myself, especially after reviewing some of those earlier posts, why wasn’t this present format simply an addition to the old place… an adjunct to the place instead of tearing down the joint and putting up a BK or Mickey D? Sure, those places are really popular, but they don’t have ‘the soul’ of what once was.

    All old places occasionally need a remodel… that is not a question. The question is since the rebuild where have all the flowers gone? Is slick beat? is new better? is easier what you want? more employees to handle a smaller crowd does not make good business sense, nor does it make for a more relaxed experience for those writer outlaws (and you have to admit that there was…) that made Litkicks what it was.

    I’m trying to avoid the nostalgic cliches only because it needn’t be… that ‘cyber-architecture’ that was so goddam unique, so alive, so filled with brilliance, humor, seriousness is, IMHO, a necessary environment for any writer, no matter their writing preference.

    I say restore the place, repaint the walls, make entry a tad more difficult to get into (membership thru recommendation?), polish up the windows, offer happy hour and invite the community back into, not just the “old” place, but the ‘timeless place’ that so many called home.

  42. Flatfoot Sneed with his
    Flatfoot Sneed with his fedora and a toothpick in his mouth, dawdling at the brick corner of the pawn shop, and here comes natty jacket Bob the Reporter, lookin’ for a scoop.

    “What’s the skinny, Sneed?”

    “Nothin’ but some sound equipment pawned by punks without the propah bills o’ sale, Bob. No five alarm here.”

    “That’s not what I heard. Buy you a cup o’joe and a a slice o’ pie?”

    “What’ya thank, Bob, I’m on the take now?”

    “Hahaha. Hell, boy, you take the cake.”

    “Who’s that new snoop you got skimmin’ the bars for an angle?”

    “Boy name o’ May-Ha. Call him Jota for short. Okay kid. Hungry for news. Says he’s writin’ a novel on the side.”

    “Who’s he think he is, Dashiell Hammett?”

  43. Cecil, you summed up what I
    Cecil, you summed up what I expressed in private to the Litkicks’ staff (several times) in the past.

    I’m too busy to get into a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of Litkicks. However, I think that after all this time, maybe going back to how the site was might be a mistake. I don’t know.

    I still think the site is trying to find its way. I hope it does. And I support it.

  44. Tough Act to FollowWise words
    Tough Act to Follow

    Wise words Cecil Lee, sounding and ringing off unscaleable canyon walls. I feel like a cyber climber walking at the bottom, knowing if I could only have the right tools and implements my Beat soul could scale these canyon walls and soar to greater heights upon reaching what’s above. It’s as if you had the right tool for the job and had it taken away, with knowhere to get a new one. There’s nothing out there remotely resembling what was the classiest of acts. Anything after it will be like following Lord Buckley or Lenny Bruce onto a stage.

  45. utterances feb.
    utterances feb. 2003….wooah!!!!
    I was in and out back then, what a different perspective now. Of course I was always in it for the Action….poetry that is……

  46. The Archive1st thanks Levi,
    The Archive

    1st thanks Levi, Caryn and Jamelah for doing this for all of us.
    Just reading one month of Utterances gave me a whole new outlook on not taking myself and things in general too seriously, it’s a trait I aspire to everyday and reading all the utterances reminds me once again.

    I’m most especially thankful to be able to peruse my work of the almost 3 years I hung out here. I’ve already been picking some to read at a benefit here in Baltimore Tuesday night coming, hey there’s an ice cream truck on the street, gotta go, thanks for this April-no-foolin’ gift.

  47. Well, Cec, I know you feel
    Well, Cec, I know you feel this way. But I still say, all changes are only that: changes. Which will be followed by more changes. I think you took the boards shutdown to be some kind of a nail in a coffin. I only meant it to be a scenery switch. It’s the same site, the same people, the same topics. And I just like it better this way. I know you don’t, and that’s okay too.

  48. Steve — do you have a copy
    Steve — do you have a copy of the poem? Maybe you could repost it here, just so we can have it up on the site again.

    The tribute boards, naturally, were pretty much quiet after some time had passed, so I didn’t put the later ones up.

    — Levi

  49. Thanks Sooz. I know, and I
    Thanks Sooz. I know, and I just wrote to Cecil, I’m glad you keeping checking back to see if you’re liking it any better. I hope soon you will be.

  50. Thank you, wired and panta
    Thank you, wired and panta for understanding what i was saying.

    levi – you know that i know change is the one constant that never fails us, and changes were necessary for the old place… i agree, but the amount of change is/was so radical that there is very little resemblance of what once was. Is that change or simply destruction of what once was..? I also know that there are those that side with your train of thought, and i know that you understand my way of thinking about it – quite possibly the ‘twain will never meet’ and that is sad.

    i don’t see the change as simply a fresh makeover… no, i see a total dismantling of a wonderful piece of cyber-architecture that you created and they came… and they came in droves, in droves from around the world – japan, australia, new zealand, south africa, france, germany, israel, england, scotland, ireland, finland, amsterdam, canada, argentina, thru-out the states. my god!

    i ask myself how i could ever pull the plug on that many devotees of literature, of poetry, of political discourse, of so many people (a true cyber-community) that engaged in a commonality that, yes! you – Levi Asher – had created, nurtured and matured with… and in the eyes of so many – you abandoned.

    was litkicks too big? had litkicks become so uncontrollable that you no longer felt your own identity in it? had litkicks gotten so popular that it overshadowed you – its father?

    would you allow you own blood children to grow with freedom from obstruction? if your own wonderful children got bigger than you, more well-known that you, would you close the doors on them and call it change? i think not.

    no… i don’t buy for a minute that the word change is what brought this all on – change being inevitable does not include abandonment, and if it does then that is not change but revolution… and as you are well aware, revolution necessitates a level of violent behavior – something that puzzles me knowing you as i think i have gotten to know you… but i may be wrong, i may be wrong – but only in my assessment of your behavior and not in how i feel about what you are calling change.

    going to, or returning to – all things must revolve back to whence they came… that too is a truism… and i do agree that some degree of change is good… but to what degree is always questionable. if i knock a hole in my wall i am faced with placing a door or a window in the hole… but my wall still holds the roof over my head. this is much different from knocking down all the walls with a wrecking ball … flattening the house that was a home to so many, for so many… a violent act that serves so little purpose for the community that inhabitited the home, that helped others, that made worthwhile suggestions, that contributed strongly and passionately to what once was Litkicks.

    but yes, levi, you are right – litkicks is yours to do with as you wish – a powerful position. use your power wisely, my friend, for power is relative and relies upon others to witness, or else it is no power at all.

  51. The LitKicks boards of old
    The LitKicks boards of old were a lot of fun, weren’t they? They were also a catalyst for a lot of people to grow as writers and as friends. Sometimes things were brilliant and sometimes they were painfully dumb. Sometimes they were pensive and sometimes they were like a riot. But the one thing they always had was energy — a constant, pulsing energy. Which was pretty cool, yeah?

    Trust me, I know. I understood and loved the boards, first as a user (though maybe when I first started out I didn’t get it so much because I did once help crash Utterances with a ridiculously massive thread that shouldn’t have ever gotten so ridiculously massive). I learned a lot about writing through my participation on LitKicks, and I also met some kindred spirits who became (and still are) very dear to me.

    But I also came to understand and love LitKicks in a completely different way when I became part of the staff in 2002. It entirely changed my perspective on the site because I could see it from a different angle. And from that vantage point, I would sometimes wonder if just having message boards was really the best way for LitKicks to realize its potential. I know I’m not the only one who would sometimes wonder that as well.

    So we did some stuff. We did The Quest (which was, I think, a high point) and the workshops. We decided to publish a book. And it was while the three of us were hashing out which pieces to include and talking through ideas for a concept that I think the seeds for this current version of LitKicks were planted. Because as we sifted through the board archives, not only were we confronted with the limitations of the software (which was a problem that was going to have to be addressed at some point), we were also confronted with the ratio of quality to, um, not quality that existed on the site.

    As Levi said, from a technical standpoint, things hit a critical place and something had to be done. We’d been talking about making a major change to LitKicks for a long time in order to focus it some more, and I think the combination of these two things prompted the decision to move to LitKicks 3.0. Certainly, it was a shocking switch, and I will admit that in the very beginning, I was overcome with nostalgia for what was and had my misgivings about the LitKicks facelift. Because what’s not to miss about a neverending party? And sometimes I’d rather talk about something meaningless than what literature means, or whatever. But I changed my mind because I can see that the level of response, though much slower, is (gasp!) on topic! We have a literary site where people are talking about literature! Unbelievable!

    Mentally, I tend to liken what’s happening here now to what LitKicks was like in its earlier days — when an Utterances thread could stay on the front page for a week and someone could presumably read something, think about it, go about his/her day, and then come back and respond thoughtfully. Now there’s no frenzy to say say say (and be clever about it!) before it all disappears into page 2 oblivion. Instead, there’s a place to share if you want to. I really like that.

    I also think that (like it is with anything) LitKicks is what its participants make it. I think things can only move forward, and furthermore, this incarnation of the site has a lot of potential to become something that’s both really fun and really smart. I like fun. And smart fun? Oh man. Bring it on!

    I guess now is another critical point for the site, because we can either really miss what was (at the expense of what is) or we can jump into the shiny new sandbox and build something exciting and fresh together. Everybody has to decide whether or not it’s worth it to get some sand down their pants, but I think any initial discomfort might be overcome by the the kickass sandcastle that comes out of it. And I’m going to stop with the weird metaphor now.

    It would be cool if you decided to help us set the tone, but if you don’t want to, that’s cool too. We still have the archives.

  52. and now there is thisIt was a
    and now there is this

    It was a time. . . And now there is this. The “old” Litkicks was always a hit or miss thing with me. . . Sometimes it was ok, sometimes it was very cool. It was kind of like going to a very busy bar, lotsa people, some of them with bad breath, some of them noisy, but also some cool individuals with cool stuff to say. A lot of very cool people.

    To me the promise of this “old” site was being defined in the final writing workshop or the party even where there was writing “Plus!” music, video, spoken word etc. The interplay of the various individuals was an integral part of the experience.

    I have always hoped that there would be more of this, more writing assignments, or a user interactive “wiki” type thing where a small group would work on an article or a work of literature. I always thought that scheduled events gave a chance to speak to up-and-coming or iconoclastic authors or even a couple of hours with “the kesey klan” or “the burroughs bunch” where a group of devotees hold the floor for a discussion or a book reading of an assigned topic.

    My first attraction to this board was indeed literature and I like the new focus for that reason. Is there a place for a linked comunity of mindless type interplay? It wouldn’t need to be massively archived or the sole purpose of the site. As it has been noted in other responses it is your site and you would know what is possible and at what cost, time, money etc. This LitKicks place though is still one of the coolest sites on the web concerning literature. There is a lot of stuff out there as far as sound bites and film clips and articles that are worth being saved, there are people that are out there that need to be acknowledged and preserved, the core of this idea is already there if we would all look back and say what was the best that happened there and how can we make more of that happen.

    Levi I don’t believe that you “paved paradise and put up a parking lot” so to speak ,but more like that tree was way overgrown and needed to be pruned, but now let the talented people of this “community” step forward and help it grow.

  53. ChartingUnfortunately, those

    Unfortunately, those rare moments of brilliance on the old boards were merely speed bumps on a road to nowhere. By filtering out the chatroom-like blather, the new site has focus and direction. As Luke advised Threepio, “Hit the accelerator…!”

  54. Archival Survivalgreatly
    Archival Survival

    greatly impressed, sir, that you should go to such a stretch to preserve the ramblings of strangers — although i suppose one
    would naturally consider online-denizens “friends” after a period of exposure amounting to familiarity, I’ve lately been of the theory that people only become stranger the more you know them.

    Hmm, Levi, since you’re lately in the archiving mood, I thought I might mention the Hip Hop Archive Project at the Schomburg Center, here in NY– given that you are an avowed fan of that music. The Project is really still in the development stage, and I’m sure they could do with the occasional volunteer services of a smash-bang webpage design guy??

    Seriously, you might try having a chat with Steven Fullwood, the Curator– he’s easily found in the Schomburg’s Manuscripts and Rare Books Division. A very nice fellow, doing what he can for Hip Hop history.

    But then again, you’re probably already swamped with work and this and several other things– still, thought you might find itinteresting.

    May this find you well,

  55. evolvingi’m not sure what

    i’m not sure what others valued about the old litkicks board format, but i valued both the thoughtful posts and the spontaneity of the initial postings and the responses: first thought best thought about, well, whatever we all posted about.

    in keeping with my decision to avoid writing pages about something that can be easily restricted to one sentence: the new format is very nicely structured. the reason i don’t often post, though, is that it isn’t spontaneous.

  56. Originally posted by Steve
    Originally posted by Steve Plonk on May 31, 2004 3:06 PM on Literary Kicks Kesey Tribute Board:

    “To My Siblings and the Last of the Merry Pranksters”

    I hereby bury my “chips”
    Wishing us luck in all endeavors
    Hold not against anyone
    Living on being clever.

    Past imperfects
    Imperfect pasts
    All moves on
    Cannot last
    So do as you must–
    Remember all you do
    Spins about this tome
    Comes back to you.

    Whether we keep smiling
    Or weep alone,
    Remember we once shared a home.
    Let’s try being the last evergreen grove
    Standing, and waving in the breeze.
    Producing new trees as we bob and weave.

    By Steve Plonk, Pseudon.

    Sorry it took so long to post this. I wrote it about the day after Ken Kesey died. Saw his bus in the World’s Fair when I was fifteen. I didn’t know what to think of it. But filed this experience away in my psyche, as I waved back at the folks on the bus. –Steve Plonk

  57. Hi Ellipsis — curious, what
    Hi Ellipsis — curious, what do you mean when you say it isn’t spontaneous?

  58. I don’t know, Ellipsis, I
    I don’t know, Ellipsis, I fling some mighty spontanoues sentences up here sometimes.

    And by the way, what is that thing in the picture on your profile?

  59. Indeed. I know I get a lot
    Indeed. I know I get a lot more writing done when I’m not analyzing someone’s dream, comparing brands of beer, or posting a doctored-up picture of Curious George puking. And don’t get me wrong, I loved doing all that and more, but like I say, I’m happier now that I’m writing more.

  60. not spontaneous as in hours
    not spontaneous as in hours that often pass until a comment appears on the page – at least that’s what makes the “non spontaneous” thing for me.

    while i understand your wish to decide about what’s going to be posted and what’s not, levi, i find that the long time between the creation of the post and its appearance on the boards often kills the vibe or the interest in that particular conversation.

    sometimes, it doesn’t matter.
    sometimes, any time is a s good for a post or response as another.

    but sometimes, a thought or a poem or a question rings a chord, opens a door or ignites a spark in me, and i want to follow that impulse while it’s still ‘hot’.
    but when i have to wait for an hour or, sometimes, a day until my reaction is posted and ready for further interaction, then the impulse that has driven me in the first place often has evaporated already.

    and sometimes i have a thought, a question, a new topic that i’d want to post about, but the thought of having to wait for hours or days until it gets posted keeps me from doing it, as it is then, at that very moment, that i want to talk about it or am in need for an answer.

    don’t get me wrong – the idea of the new format of more focused and thoughtful conversations is something i do like. first thought may be best thought sometimes, but it not necessarily is… and the challenge of giving a reply a little more time to focus and refine it can bring really surprising results.
    but, and i mean BUT, first (spontaneous) thought / expression often triggers (and has triggered in litkicks’ past) such amazing thought- and wordscapes that it shouldn’t be totally neglected.

    i would love to see the intelligent discussion boards, as we’re having them now, moderated and with previewed posts, along with maybe one or two ‘old litkicks style’ boards that allow spontaneous and real-time interaction (one for action poetry and one for general literary discussion perhaps).
    you could do something like ‘cleaning out’ the boards once a week (clearing away trash and small talk and putting an info about that practice into the posting window so that nobody can complain about that and call it censorship) or keeping to put the old month’s board content into the archives every new month to keep the clarity.

    that’s something i would like….

    in any case i am excited to see and experience litkicks to change and evolve. i surely will continue to be a part of it, even in quieter times!

  61. hi levi–spontaneous isn’t
    hi levi–spontaneous isn’t quite the word to use, there, and for some reason, i can’t think of a good word to use in its place. what i mean is that messages posted on the boards appeared immediately, and i certainly took this immediacy for granted when the boards were active. i was in love with the frantic nature of litkicks and the way it forced me to think quickly, flitting from response to response as though i had to respond to them all simultaneously. and while the current format is very structured and very, dare i say, mature, and i appreciate the way litkicks has evolved, i find myself stumbling when i post here, since the lack of the old immediacy has caused me to abandon the old “first thought best thought must be flung out at all costs” attitude. in other words, the idea that i have to wait until my post is reviewed and then displayed, and then for possible responses, keeps me from mustering all i have at once for a given subject like i did before. now, my interest is punctuated by the delays, and though i think it might work very well for some people, it doesn’t work very well for me. i’m not complaining. it just doesn’t quite suit me, so now, i enjoy reading the threads much more than i enjoy responding to them.

    and bill: that thing in my profile photo is the embodiment of noise, keeper of laughter, defyer of death (thus far) and keeper of things that can be kept. oh. nevermind. that’s part of a line of cast iron life-sized statues of children at the blount cultural park in montgomery, where the alabama shakespeare festival is. you can see the entire line of statues if you check the following url and look to the right side of the page, just under the banner:

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What We're Up To ...

Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!