Category: Places

Reed College

I don’t know much about Reed College, except that it is in Portland, Oregon and that it is notable in Beat history as the meeting place of three future writers, the nature-minded poet Gary Snyder, the buddha-minded poet Philip Whalen and the least-grounded and most unsettled of the threesome, … Read the rest

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Berkeley, on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, is an extremely cool town. It’s not necessarily the University that makes it cool, or at least it’s not the undergraduates, who don’t look much different from undergraduates anywhere else. What it is is the mass of scraggly humanity that … Read the rest

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City Lights

City Lights Books was founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin, editor of City Lights magazine, in 1953. It’s located at 261 Columbus Avenue in San Francisco. The original pie-shaped store has been expanded to four times its original size over the years, first moving into the basement (originally … Read the rest

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Bixby Canyon

If you’ve ever driven on the Pacific Coast Highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, you’ve seen Big Sur, the dramatic series of dark cliffs, deep canyons and plunging peaks that form the California coastline south of the Bay Area.

I’ll leave the rest of the descriptive phrases to the … Read the rest

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I’ve never been to Denver, but I’m dying to go. I’d get drunk on Tokay at a Larimer Street dive, and then go street-crawling in search of Dean Moriarty’s forever-lost father.

Denver is part of Beat history because of Neal Cassady, who left Denver in the early forties to … Read the rest

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In the autumn of 1947, 25-year-old Jack Kerouac left San Francisco and headed for Southern California in search of unforeseen adventures. He met a Mexican girl named Bea Franco on a bus and ended up following her to an encampment of Mexican grape- and cotton-pickers, where they briefly contemplated a … Read the rest

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St. Louis

When young Lucien Carr left his hometown of St. Louis to study at Columbia University in the early forties, he was setting off a chain reaction that would have effects beyond what he could have possibly imagined. An older St. Louis man named David Kammerer was in love with Carr … Read the rest

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San Francisco

Like several people who have more money than I do, The Beat Generation had two homes, one in New York and one on the San Francisco Bay. The Beat movement originated in New York City, but San Francisco’s West Coast ways helped to mellow the hard-edged New York Beats — … Read the rest

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