An Unintentional Literary Pilgrimage of Los Angeles

 

I’ve been to Southern California many times, and yet, I’ve never quite seen the Los Angeles that I wanted to. As a book nerd, I’ve always dreamt of doing a book tour, visiting famous literary sites. But Los Angeles County feels unwieldy. However, on this last trip, I lucked out. I stayed in downtown Los Angeles proper, with my friend, Erin Eyesore (check out her post-punk feminist radio show, erineyesore.tumblr.com). While she attended a conference for work, I did some sight-seeing. First on the list, The Last Bookstore which I’ve seen photos of on friends’ Instagram feeds. We were staying just blocks away from this heavenly place. It’s like the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in The Shadow of the Wind by Arturo Perez Reverte—you enter a noir bookstore, a space selling books in another realm, a fictional place that you wish existed—touching things seems unreasonable because they will flitter away in smoke because they exist in another dimension. But the  labyrinth you wander is real and if you go on a slow day, which I did, you find yourself in mazes all alone, which of course, makes things more surreal.

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Beatnik Shindig in San Francisco: Bringing together the Beat Generation, their families, and readers

Christine, Jerry Cimino, and soifollowjulian

Christine, Beat Museum Founder and Director Jerry Cimino, and SoIFollowJulian

This week was the first ever Beatnik Shindig, hosted by The Beat Museum in San Francisco. I’m a huge Beat fan and have been since I was 19 years old. I’m so very fortunate to have worked with and become friends with Director and Founder of the Beat Museum, Jerry Cimino and his wife Estelle (whom he met in a bookshop after graduating college!).

For me, The Beat Museum is much more than a museum: it’s a gathering place, one that draws people in and invites them to be comfortable and share their stories. It is an all important archive of all things Beat. Someone called Jerry up and said, hey I have an old piano that used to be Allen Ginsberg’s. If you drive up here and pick it up, you can have it! People want to contribute to the Museum and help preserve this literary history. The Beat generation were a bunch of miscreants (I say this with love as I would identify myself and many of my friends as thus) who moved around a lot and couldn’t seem to settle down. As a result, things they owned, touched, used, are all over the country. People don’t know what to do with these items, but they realize this Beat history is a large part of our American literary canon, and they want to contribute. Continue reading →

Neal Cassady’s long lost “Joan Anderson letter” is found!!

JerryBeatMuseum

Jerry Cimino, Director of the Beat Museum. Image courtesy of The Beat Museum

Hoarders have been vindicated! The long lost letter of Neal Cassady has been found!! The letter would have ended up in the trash if it weren’t for Jack Spinosa, of West Hollywood. When his neighbor, of Golden Goose Press, was forced to move out of his office building, he started throwing everything away. Spinosa felt bad that people’s writing was just being trashed and saved boxes he never looked at. He kept them in his home without reviewing anything. The letter was discovered two years ago by his daughter, Jean Spinosa when she was cleaning out her father’s home. She found an envelope marked A. Ginsberg and initially there was some confusion as her father shares the same first name as Kerouac. She didn’t understand why Allen Ginsberg would be writing to her father. After reading a few pages she realized it was from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac. She began her research and realized what she found when she read the Paris Review interview with Kerouac. In it, he describes the letter and credits it with the basis of style for On the Road and describes a small drawing of a window. Continue reading →