A Compendium of Raindrops

A found mirror on Ocean Ave in Flatbush, Brooklyn

It was a rough day for me back in February of this year when the great Beat publisher, bookseller, pacifist and poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti died at the age of 101, and I couldn’t post about it on Litkicks. I was right in the middle of migrating this entire website to a new software platform, and was unable to create a new blog post.

Well, my timing was bad but my intentions were good: Litkicks itself is 26 years old now – nowhere near as impressive as Ferlinghetti’s 101, but a lot of years for a website – and I had to migrate the site to a new platform to keep it alive. I like to think the booklover who built City Lights would have approved. Far too many web writers and website publishers don’t keep their valuable content alive, and this is a tragic mistake. I don’t have the power to save all the excellent literary websites that have been peers of Litkicks’s since the 1990s, but I can at least make sure that every word I’ve ever published on my own site remains available as long as I can. (And, just in case anyone doesn’t know this, Litkicks still gets a whole lot of hits, for both our archived classics and our new stuff, which is why I know it’s worth the trouble for me to keep it alive.)

I curated some of our classic articles as I moved our archives to this new platform, and also put some effort into presenting the memoir of Internet culture from 1993 to 2003 (and of my own experience crashing ugly through and surviving the dot-com boom) that I wrote several years ago. I finally came up with a title for this memoir: Ten Years in Silicon Alley. I think this work has some merit. Rereading my own autobiography really brought me back to the days when the Internet was brand new, and to the energy and excitement of the primordial world of the early literary blog as we once lived it, and we sure did live it.

Today? It’d be hard to say where the literary Internet can be found, and for some strange reason the podcasting community is the artistic community that seems to have the fresh creative energy I crave. I don’t have any clever theory why so many podcasts sound so fresh in 2021, and why I have maybe 2 books in my line of sight that I am eager to read, but ten times as many podcast episodes that I am dying to listen to. Should I share my list of favorite podcasts with you all? Maybe I will sometime, but first I want to make sure everybody listens to the monthly podcast I run at World BEYOND War, where I am director of technology. The latest episode takes place at our #NoWar2021 global peace conference, and I really like this one. Previous podcast episodes I’m really proud of couldn’t post about here earlier this year because Litkicks was broken include another literary crossover featuring novelists Rivera Sun and Vanessa Veselka titled “Activism and the Imagination”, and a stirring session on Mahatma Gandhi with the founder of a nonviolence organization in India. Please listen to all 26 episodes! I’m so proud of this podcast.

I also run a podcast called “Lost Music” that explores the literary side of opera, and I’m super proud of this whole thing too, though shamefully I haven’t had time to create a single new episode yet this year. I’m working on that too.

Sometimes I wonder why I work so hard on insubstantial goals like these: archiving a long-running literary blog, interviewing antiwar activists, analyzing 19th century librettos. What do I think I’m doing? I may as well curate a compendium of raindrops. Well, I’m sure there are raindrop connoisseurs out there too. I still don’t know why I do this stuff I do. But thanks for being here with me and making it fun.

8 Responses

  1. Been a reader/fan/advocate of Litkicks since the 90s. Originally I was researching Kerouac and stumbled on “Levi”…

  2. Once again, welcome back, Marc — always glad to read what you have to say on Litkicks. By the way, the thought of listening to 26 podcast episodes really overwhelms me. Can’t you just gather them together into a book at some point?

  3. Thanks Dad! Well, I would like to do a book of podcast episodes, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. But maybe I can make this sound less forbidding – instead of listening to all 26 episodes, just listen to one episode! I’m confident that anyone who listens to one episode will be so impressed and edified that they will want to listen to all the rest.

    Also, if anyone isn’t clear exactly HOW to listen to a podcast: the best way is on your phone! Just download Spotify or Stitcher or Podcasts or any other free podcast app. Very easy. I suggest listening while doing something else – exercising, walking, travelling, chores. Podcasts are ideal for multitasking (maybe this is why I like them so much).

    The less ideal way to listen to a podcast is to play it on your computer and stare at the screen while listening … but this method works too.

  4. I have definitely appreciated all the things you’ve done, Thank you. Your efforts and your talents have been enjoyed and admired by many. I am happy to have played a small part in your life’s ventures. Thanks again, Mike

    I remember that photo too..cool shot..

  5. Well, here’s to raindrops. I’m glad you do the stuff you do. Story behind the photo?

  6. Thanks Sharon! The story is exceedingly simple. Walking on Ocean Avenue right near my apartment in Flatbush, I saw this big mirror in a pile of furniture thrown out as trash. Took a pic and liked it. It was raining a bit. That’s the whole story.

  7. Thanks for maintaining an unexpurgated text of the Gregory Corso poem “Should I get married?”, including the line “the priest looking at me as if I masturbated” which another site (North Iowa Community College) altered to “as if I were a criminal”. I trust the “Beat Generation” link is the appropriate place for this comment?

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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!