Writer, philosopher, artist, and co-founder of the Beat Generation, William S. Burroughs — who died in 1997 at the age of 83 — continues to be a vital cultural force today. The author of books like Junky, Queer, and Naked Lunch, Burroughs forged the cornerstone of a modern American cultural movement with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and other visionary writers and artists. His buttoned-up, three-piece exterior cloaked a dark genius that hungered for hustlers and heroin — way back in the 1940s. On February 5, William S. Burroughs would have been 97, but his spirit undoubtedly lives on, with more about him still coming out. … Read More
Everybody doodles. There’s just something about an idle moment and a blank space on a page that invites a little design or two. Plus, there is some evidence that active doodlers are also active thinkers and imaginers. After all, John Keats doodled flowers in the margins of his manuscripts, and Leonardo DaVinci is famous for his love of doodling. There’s even a whole book dedicated to the doodles our various presidents have scribbled – we hope not while they were supposed to be paying attention to anything important. But everybody’s doodles are different – like dreams, they are culled directly from the loose bits floating around in our brains, and their expression is really only inhibited by the doodler’s physical abilities and/or hand-eye coordination. Authors – especially those who wrote with pens instead of those soulless computer things – are prime doodlers. They have a million ideas going through their heads at once, so it makes sense that something would spill out as a little drawing on the side. Check out our gallery of doodles by famous authors, and let us know what (if anything) you think it tells us about them. … Read More
What do your glasses say about you? And more importantly, which famous spectacle-sporters do they make you look like? We’ve picked out some four-eyed artists, writers and cultural figures as our guides, and analyzed the shapes of their specs to determine what category you might fall into if you choose to rock their signature frames.
After all, whether round or square, big or small, glasses are always a statement, and we think the kind of statement you make on your face probably has some bearing on the kind of statement you make in your art. Do aesthetic choices track from accessories to prose to song lyrics? Or can you get a little closer to writing like David Foster Wallace if you appropriate his specs — literally the lenses through which he sees the world? We speculate on a few spectacles after the jump. … Read More
Last week, Tina Fey was awarded the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and over the weekend PBS aired the made-for-TV ceremony. While they might have cut out some of the Sarah Palin digs, they left in a hilarious cameo by Alec Baldwin as Mark Twain. (In case you’re wondering, Baldwin looked and sounded more like Colonel Sanders than Twain.) It got us thinking about previous portrayals of famous writers, particularly in film. After the jump, we examine 10 of our favorite examples and try to determine which actors pulled it off best. … Read More
The history of book banning reflects the history of social fear. From political dissidence to obscenity to excessive realism, the reasons for literary censorship tend to reflect a residing (or self-appointed) authority’s narrow analysis on behalf of everyone apparently incapable of passing judgment for themselves. Although some censoring rationales simply dissipate with time, other explanations for a book’s unfitting nature remain too absurd to ignore. To coincide with Banned Books Week 2010, here’s a sample of classic books that were censored for particularly ridiculous reasons. … Read More
In this biopic of famed American poet Allen Ginsberg, Jon Hamm, Mary Louise-Parker, Treat Williams, and Jeff Daniels join lead actor James Franco to reenact the 1957 trial following the publication of Howl.
A year after printing the epic Beat poem, publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti was arrested and charged with obscenity. The film takes us up to that point through insightful chronicling of Ginsberg’s early years as a writer and revolutionary, carrying us through to the case that represented American society’s conflicting values during a time of change. … Read More
For anyone who has ever felt drawn to the Beat Generation, yet has never fully comprehended its history, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters provides a long-awaited context for the lives, loves, and poetry of its founders. Beginning in 1944, Kerouac and Ginsberg’s correspondence stretched nearly 20 years, spurred by a murder and sustained by a mutual love of the written word.
In Viking’s new publication, the depth and cultural significance of the two writers’ works takes on a new perspective. Their letters chronicle the authors’ complex relationship, including Ginsberg’s early admiration of the hyper-heterosexual Kerouac, as well as their numerous publication rejections, and the establishment of a literary movement that defined a generation. … Read More
It’s here! The trailer we’ve all been waiting for! Yes, it’s Allen Ginsberg biopic Howl, starring James Franco! We’re trying to keep our fangirl tendencies in check, but this clip has us pretty psyched. Franco, despite being a bit too traditionally hunky for the role, seems to have the Ginsberg mannerisms down — and then there’s Jon Hamm playing his heroic obscenity trial lawyer. This pretty much guarantees we will be queuing up hours in advance to see Howl when it debuts September 24. How about you? … Read More
In honor of National Beard Month (and Movember, though we’re focusing on actual beards here), men all over the US are growing out their facial hair. Since we can’t grow our collective beards on the internet, we are celebrating with our list of the ten scariest famous beards of all time — not that we’re pogonophobes! Oh no, more like… Read More
Eileen Myles exists somewhere outside of neat binaries. We know her as a legendary queer poet and novelist, a respected professor, and a one-time presidential candidate. In this book, she shows us yet another side of herself — that of art critic and travel journalist. Myles’ latest work combines broad, universal experiences with a pinpointed mapping of gay and lesbian art-intelligentsia; a large portion of these essays offers up personal and continually relevant analysis of her friends, including Allen Ginsberg, Sadie Benning, James Schuyler, and Jill Johnston. Myles also witnesses the brilliant art spectacle of Björk in concert and interviews Daniel Day… Read More