Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I am signaling you through the flames. The North Pole is not where it used to be. Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest. Civilization self-destructs. The goddess Nemesis is knocking at the door…

What are poets for in such an age? What is the use of poetry? If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of Apocalyptic times, even if this means sounding apocalyptic. You have to decide if bird cries are cries of ecstasy or cries of despair, by which you will know if you are a tragic or a lyric poet. Conceive of love beyond sex. Be subversive, constantly questioning reality and the status quo. Strive to change the world in such a way that there’s no further need to be a dissident. Read between the lives, and write between the lines. Be committed to something outside yourself. Be passionate about it. But don’t destroy the world, unless you have something better to replace it.

If you would snatch fame from the flames, where is your burning bow, where are your arrows of desire, where your wit on fire?

The master class starts wars. The lower classes fight it. Governments lie. The voice of the government is often not the voice of the people.

Speak up, act out! Silence is complicity. Be the gadfly of the state and also its firefly. And if you have two loaves of bread, do as the Greeks did: sell one with the coin of the realm, and with the coin of the realm buy sunflowers.

Wake up! The world’s on fire!

Have a nice day!

-- Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poetry as Insurgent Art

This little diversion was lifted out of Amy Goodman's Hour With Ferlinghetti yesterday, well worth the time to sit through today while your chestnuts are roasting by open fires, Jack Frost is nipping at your nose.

It's easy to overestimate the influence of Beat Generation poets and writers on the rebellion of the 1960's and on current Rebel Hearts among us. Surely these 80-somethings (those who are still alive that is, and there are dambed few of them left) did something in their own times, and that something still resonates with us today, but what that something or what that something is is as elusive now as it was then. We try to figure it out.

Christmas time is a good time to remember, or try to remember, when memories fail us, just what it was and what it is we respond to in all the palaver and chaos that forms our contemporary notions of... History.

We look at this scroll being unrolled in public, and the wonder is (most of it) still exists, and the wonder is anybody cares any more. We've moved on. Pixels move us now.

What is this machine called a typewriter, anyway?

Cigarettes? Everybody smoked in those days. Who dares to smoke now?

"Hey, Mac. Gotta light?" My COPD ain't as bad as yours.

And yet, could we or would we have had the rebellion we did, and could or would we have the Rebel Hearts we have today if we had not had those Beat Generation dreamers and dramatic interpreters of those dreams?

City Lights still sells books on Columbus Avenue in San Franciso, still retails revolution.

Books? What are these things called Books of which you speak?

So this is Christmas, and you better Goddamn Merry It Up. Got a long slog ahead of us.

The Village demands no less!

Gonna go have me some posole now.

Feliz Navidad


  1. Quite odd that the fellow unrolling the Kerouac holy scroll only puts on archive gloves when installing the band clips to hold the scroll flat and when handling the glass (no stinkin' finger prints on that!) that covers the sacred text; and not when he touches the fragile paper. I assume he works at the museum. Weird.

    What a funny Solemn Occasion!

  2. Well, lea-p, I guess nothing is sacred anymore. Archive gloves? We don't use no stinkin' archive gloves!

    I am curious about the kind of paper Kerouac used. Was hemp totally outlawed at that time?

    The typewriter made me think of "Naked Lunch".


  3. Regarding the lack of those white cotton gloves...

    When I first saw this video, I, like nearly everyone else, was OUTRAGED at this obvious mistreatment of the Sacred Scroll.

    But they say they don't use gloves in handling the Scroll because they're afraid of dropping or damaging it with gloves on. I guess it makes sense.

    The Scroll was typed on 12ft long sheets of tracing paper scotch taped together according to the NPR story about it -- that is fascinating in and of itself.

    On one of my numerous trips to New Mexico this past year, I hightailed it up to Santa Fe the last day of the Scroll's exhibition at the Palace of the Governors. I got there a half hour after the doors closed. Unfortunately, my watch was still set on California time. Grr.

    The typewriter is one of my own Olympias. I think I've got four-five of them, pick them up out of the discard bins at the Goodwill. I've been contacted by NPOs in Central America who claim that manual typewriters are very much in demand in that part of the world, but new ones are expensive and break down easily, not nearly as indestructable as the old fashioned kind. Would I be willing to donate any of mine? Why yes, yes I would! ;)

  4. My spouse just informed me that we also have an Olympia stored in the attic; I've seen it but it's a different color, so it didn't register.

    Where do you get typewriter ribbon for this? Is there some online Steampunk kind of market that sells such "obsolete" goods and sundries?

    Felix, I really like your blog. It's enlightening.

  5. Hey asta,

    You can still get ribbons that will fit Olympias and most other typewriters (except Royal). They're getting kind of pricey, though, and they're not as well made as they were in the Old Days.

    Here's one source on eBay:

    Typewriter Ribbons

    Here's another online source:

    Luckily all the Olympias I've picked up have had good ribbons.

    Glad you're liking this little blog-effort. We'll see how it goes. I've tried this sort of thing before but always ran up against a Time Wall and had to let something go, ie: posting on Teh Blog. Thanks for your kind words!