COLUMN SEVENTY-FIVE, SEPTEMBER 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
The Beat Hotel by Barry Miles, Grove Press
[Hammond Guthrie says he got his start in what he calls the 'submerged community? when he collaborated with a number of luminaries, including, he says, Del Close, director for 2nd City and The Committee; "Hube the Cube? Leslie; Philo T. Farnsworth III, son of the inventor of television; Liam O'Gallagher; author of The Blue Planet Notebooks; William Seward Burroughs; John "Hoppy? Hopkins of the Arts Lab in London, and Robert Jasper Grootveld, mentor for the Amsterdam Provos.
In the Fall of 2002 SAF Publications in London will release Guthrie's first book of memoirs AsEverWas - Memoirs of a Beat Survivor.]
With the July 2000 Grove
Press release of The Beat Hotel, author (Barry) Miles revisits 9 rue Git-le-Coeur,
an historic set of decaying digs amid a rat infested slum on the Left Bank of
Paris, "a decrepit rooming house with hole-in-the-floor toilets shared by
all..." circa 1957-1963. A spectral time in diminutive spaces where life's
more literate mysteries were eloquently explored with improvisation, magical
intent, opiate indulgence and---to paraphrase the late Erato Gregory---"by
waiting for no one."
Madame Rachou's dimly lit
warren of age-stained cubby-holes and gossamer-adorned nestings became the
hot-plate hearth home and oracular laboratory for author/artist -- William
Seward Burroughs III, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, Brion Gysin,
Ian Sommerville, Harold Norse, and Sinclair Beiles, along with the spectral
shadows of the lesser known.
This is where Burroughs
spoon-finished the pages of his Naked Lunch, where Ginsberg first began
howling Kaddish for his mother Naomi, and where Corso penned The
American Express, his first and only novel. It was from this essential base
of operations that Gysin and Sommerville's stroboscopic Dreamachine and
the initial cut/up texts in Minutes To Go were released upon the hearts
and minds of the relatively small underculture of like-minded writers and
artists who were listening---"Towers Open Fire!," they screamed from
the balcons. And, it was here, in this perfectly dank hovel of plastered stone
that the close-cut fragments of the era referred to as "Beat" made its
final call from subterrania.
Miles' Beat Hotel
well remembers this proclamation, and le raison' du "Here To Go" for
today's audience of time's beaten past with a sensitive pen and intimate
knowledge of the players therein shared by few. What an astonishing array of
form and set-founding artists passed, and rather quietly I might add, through
these instrumental doors of perceptive experimentation.
When one reads Miles'
engrossing account of this communal and highly individual period of
wood-shedding within the slums and back streets of Paris, reflect back upon the
far better known, and completely infamous, paregoric a la Arab boy den of
indulgence that Burroughs had previously established in Tangier as the
Beat-beach and redoubt du jour---where the uniquely creative, truly
word-breaking, and highly influential camaraderie among this same group of
friends pales like ash blowing across the graves of unsung heroes.
Apart from the few existing
works published by Mary Beach and the few other limited editions that appeared
during this residency---the transient doings and the experimental results
formulated by the hotel's renowned inhabitants have remained little more than an
out of focus image---even for those of us who weren't on the set---yet heard the
echoing resolve from points unknown.
A close friend to so many
of these prolific and well-respected artists, Miles' superbly illustrated book
pedagogically and humorously fills what has, up until now, been something of a
black hole in Beat history. For artists, students and friends of the Beat
Generation, The Beat Hotel is an essential read.
Other works by (Barry)
1970 - The
Rebirth of Joy by Miles, a mimeo edition of the article
that Peter Owen left out of Joe Berke's Counter Culture. 
1973 - A
Catalogue of the William S. Burroughs Archive. Ollon, Switzerland
and London, Am Here Books and the Covent Garden Press.
1974 - Reich.
Dragon Press, London. [unauthorized off print of Image
magazine article. Probably originating with Compendium Bookshop, Camden.]
1977 - [w/
Pearce Marchbank] The Illustrated Rock Almanac. Paddington Press,
London. [Marchbank did the graphic design, words by Miles]
1978 - Bob
Dylan. London. Big O Publishing.
Bob Dylan In His Own Words. London, Omnibus Press.
The Beatles In Their Own Words. London, Omnibus Press.
[w/ Joe Maynard] William S. Burroughs, A Bibliography 1953-1973.
Charlottesville, Virginia. Bibliographical Society of the University of
1980 - Rolling
Stones, An Illustrated Discography. London. Omnibus Press.
Pink Floyd, A Visual Documentary. London. Omnibus Press.
David Bowie In His Own Words. London, Omnibus Press.
David Bowie Black Book. London. Omnibus Press.
John Lennon In His Own Words. London, Omnibus Press.
1981 - Pink
Floyd. The Illustrated Discography. London. Omnibus Press.
The Jam. An Illustrated Biography. London. Omnibus Press.
The Pretenders. An Illustrated Biography London. Omnibus Press
Talking Heads. An Illustrated Biography. London. Omnibus Press
The Ramones. An Illustrated Biography London. Omnibus Press
The Clash. An Illustrated Biography London. Omnibus Press
The Two Tone Book For Rude Boys London. Omnibus Press
The Police, a Visual Documentary. London, Omnibus Press.
Mick Jagger In His Own Words. London, Omnibus Press.
1982 - The
Beatles In Their Own Words. London. W.H. Allen.
1985 - Sex
& Drugs & Rock "n? Roll. London. Bobcat Books.
1988 - Pink
Floyd, A Visual Documentary. 21st Anniversary Edition. London.
Omnibus Press. [updated]
1989 - Ginsberg:
A Biography. New York. Simon & Schuster.
Ginsberg: A Biography. London. Viking Penguin
1992 - Two
Lectures on the Work of Allen Ginsberg. Turret Papers, London.
[one of 500 copies, pamphlet]
William Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible. London, Virgin Books.
1993 - William
Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible. New York. Hyperion Books.
Zappa. A Visual Documentary. London, Omnibus Press.
Frank Zappa In His Own Words. London. Omnibus Press.
1994 - The
Rolling Stones. A Visual Documentary. London. Omnibus Press.
1997 - Paul
McCartney: Many Years From Now. London, Secker & Warburg.
[w/ Charles Perry] I Want to Take You Higher. The Psychedelic Era 1965-
1969. Chronicle Books. San
Francisco, in association with the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
1998 - The
Beatles, A Diary. London. Omnibus Press.
Jack Kerouac, King of the Beats. A Portrait. London, Virgin.
1999 - Jack
Kerouac, Roi Des Beatniks. Paris, Editions du Rocher [different
text, only edition]
2000 - The
Beat Hotel. Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris, 1957-1963.
New York, Grove Press.
Ginsberg: A Biography. [Revised, updated edition] London, Virgin Books.
2001 - The
Beatles Diary. Volume 1: The Beatles Years. London, Omnibus
[New edition with extra material by other authors, redesigned]
2002 - In The Sixties. London, Jonathan Cape. ##
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