HIGH WHITE NOTES—The Rise and Fall of Gonzo Journalism—Review

Marc Olmsted

HIGH WHITE NOTES The Rise and Fall of Gonzo Journalism By David S. Wills Beatdom Books $17.99 High White Notes takes a phrase from F. Scott Fitzgerald that was of prime importance to Hunter S. Thompson (or any serious writer) - being in the zone while creating. It is of course important to all artists to be in that zone, and thus David Wills uses Thompson’s writing exclusively (rather than a more conventional biography) to get to the man and his self-created myth, one far more invented than I previously realized. Most of us enthusiastic about Thompson agree that Hell’s Angels, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, and Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 are his “high white notes” - and anyone attempting to follow and understand him can see that there is a deterioration in his work from that point - relatively slow enough to entice us back momentarily (I used to regularly pick up the San Francisco Examiner ju...
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TAXI NIGHT — Poetry by Cliff Fyman — Review

Marc Olmsted

TAXI NIGHT Poetry by Cliff Fyman Long News Books $15.00 I connected with Cliff Fyman some years after his association with Naropa University (then Institute) and its 1977 Summer Writing Program - a heyday-hosting of teachers like William Burroughs, Anne Waldman, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I met him through then-fellow student writers Peter Marti and Vincent Zangrillo. Although late in the book, there is this poetic statement from Fyman, and it sums up his view: I see every object alive and luminous and at the same time I see the decay and death inherent in it’s very shining. Cliff Fyman is essentially influenced by William Carlos Williams and his school of Objectvism, something Allen Ginsberg returned full circle to in his teaching at Naropa. Cliff learned to sit in the Buddhist style of “calm abiding,” shamatha. Add to that - he is also Zionist, pacifist ...
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IN THE REBEL CAFE: Interviews with Ed Sanders – Review

Marc Olmsted

IN THE REBEL CAFE Interviews with Ed Sanders edited by Jennie Skerl Clemson University Press $120.00 Jennie Skerl has put together a magnificent intro/crash course to Ed Sanders, "second generation" Beat. Sanders, to many of us, needs no introduction, but he is not the household name that many of the "first generation" are. Further complexity involving appreciation of Sanders is how many angles one can know him from. Many are more aware of his band The Fugs. Perhaps one read The Family in one of its revisions, Sanders' journalistic exploration of Charles Manson, (and among the absolute best of the true crime genre). Finally, one may know him poetically, and in particular, through his "investigative poetics" - journalistic, historical, data-collecting poetics, a refinement and extension of the political "list" poetry of Allen Ginsberg such as "CIA Dope Calypso," which arguably has its own musical influence from Th...
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SOUTH AMERICAN JOURNALS January – July 1960 by Allen Ginsberg – review

Marc Olmsted

SOUTH AMERICAN JOURNALS January - July 1960 by Allen Ginsberg edited by Michael Schumacher University of Minnesota Press $29.95 First, I was immediately struck by how much unpublished poetry or early drafts (such as "Aether" and "Magic Psalm") are contained in this volume - far beyond any previous journal publications of Allen Ginsberg. In fact, he mostly wrote his journal as poetry during this period. Granted much is not A-list material, as Allen correctly understood in not publishing a lot of it. But for earnest scholars and fans, it is a gold mine. There are also amazing little notations of events, such as seeing Montgomery Clift's "Raintree County" ("he too looks sad" - in fact, Monty's face-rearranging car crash occurred in the middle of filming that picture). Likewise a long dream about Marlon Brando, who imitates Jack Kerouac's voice at one point(!) and includes a dream discussion of how great Orson Welles' Magn...
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