Ready For Beat Muse



When one the group dies, you start counting noses. I took down my post on Jame’s death that was a parody on the long sibling rivalry amongst the Harkins brothers because many outside this family are affected. I told Chris Wandel the news last night. She was Peter, Keith’s, and my lover in that order. We lived together at 13th. street and have been on some amazing road trips together. She went with when Mafia Max went mad. She was at all the gigs with the Loading Zone at the Filmore. She was a good friend of Bill Graham, who took her to dinner. Cassidy latched on to the Zone after a gig, and stayed a week wigged out on speed. The band did their thing around him as he spoke to phantoms on the road.

Michael Harkins was a good friend of the Beat Poet Michael McLure who in this video is talking about crates of lettuce in the produce market.

Above is a replica of the car Jack and Cassidy drove in the book ‘On The Road’ in the Beat Museum. I am still waiting to hear from Rena who heard James’ voice doing Jack in the middle of the night as the Coronet chugged its way of the mountains. We are relics, heading for the automobile burial ground just this side of Eden and West of Winnemucca. That’s where my Dodge ended up, and the mattress we bought at a Russian River garage sale because our loving making was hurting Rena’s tailbone. Bones to bones, asses to asses – James died in bed.

That mattress in the back seat was in our beloved tent, that we never gave back to Brian, Keith’s brother. It lie there in the desert, a resting place for junkyard dogs and coyotes. And there go the last man standing putting poems in is head just in case someone cares. Who’s left? All Rena wanted was a good nights rest in the City of Lost Angels. This far, and no further. Love is the elusive hitchhiker we drop off somewhere and forget about. As it should be.

Above is a photo of the 13th. Street Four crossing a bridge in Venice California. From left to right is: Keith Pruvis, Tim O’Connor, Peter Shapiro, and, Jon Greg Presco. In the foreground in Tim’s girlfriend whose father was a famous Hollywood agent and good friend of Lee Marvin and Marlon Brando who were at her home quite a lot. Tim’s father was a famous actor of the same name.

In 1968, The Four lived in a large Victorian house on 13th. street near downtown Oakland. James Taylor, Keith and I, moved into this incredible house two weeks after my fall at McClure’s Beach. James invited the rock band ‘The Loading Zone’ to come live with us. As ‘The Marbles’ they played at the first Trips Festival at Longshoremen’s Hall in 1966. Keith Peter, and myself were good friends of James Harkins who was one cool dude. He dropped acid with his fathr in 1965, and is a prolific artist and poet.

I was given a bedroom next to the sound room. It had a beautiful carved mantel. I was the artist in residence. When the Zone came home from a gig at the Filmore they would bring home members of famous bands who wanted to see the quintessential hippie scene that had made the San Francisco bay area famous all over the world. I would get a knock on my door and some band member wanted to come in and take a peek. One young man asked if he could watch me paint. There was a fire in the hearth. I worked late at night on large canvases provided by my patron and benefactor, Bob H. who grew up with Tim Scully, and was a good friend of Owsley, he helping him build the sound system for the Grateful Dead. Bob’s brother, Tim H. was a member of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, and sold LSD in Europe. Bob had worked at the Livermore Lab when he was sixteen. He was a young genius who bid me to paint again after my fall.

“There is nothing new under the sun.” Check out the surfer chic.

Jon Presco

SAN FRANCISCO — JERRY CIMINO, founder of the Beat Museum, steps out onto the teeming streets of San Francisco’s North Beach section. Standing under a 12-foot-high, six-foot-wide painting of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, he opens his arms wide.

Slide Show On the Road.“Everything happened here,” he says dramatically. “We call this intersection, Broadway and Columbus, the center of the universe.”

Maybe so, if you’re someone whose heart flutters like a Lester Young tenor sax solo at the mere mention of the names Kerouac and Cassady. Because it was in this traditionally Italian neighborhood that an influential group of bohemian artists and writers coalesced in the late 1940s, eventually becoming known as the Beat Generation.

Kerouac’s landmark 1957 novel, “On the Road,” helped define them. A decade later, it also prompted a new generation of youths to go driving or thumbing their way across America. Many ended up in what Kerouac described (in his characteristically Benzedrine-speed prose) as “the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her 11 mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing walls of potato-patch fog beyond and smoke and goldenness in the late afternoon of time.”

Mr. Cimino arrived in 1988, and in more conventional fashion. He and his wife, Estelle, had moved from their native Baltimore to the Bay Area, where Mr. Cimino was working in corporate sales. Three years later, Mrs. Cimino opened a bookstore in Monterey, Calif., that specialized in the Beat literature that had thrilled and inspired them both since college. To help promote the store, Mr. Cimino was able to obtain the toll-free number 1-800-KEROUAC and later the domain name But he wanted to do more than sell the books. He wanted to tell the story. In 2003, as he says, he “morphed” the bookstore into the Beat Museum. Three years later, using what he called “a very large equity loan on our overpriced California home” the museum moved into a 5,000-square foot, two-floor space in the heart of North Beach.

Through the museum’s quirky collection of more than 1,000 photos, rare books, paintings, records, posters and artifacts, visitors learn about the cold war context of the Beat Generation’s emergence, the importance of jazz to their writing, their rejection of the status quo and their influence on the counterculture of the 1960s. There are also biographical displays on each of the major figures, including Kerouac, Cassady (the charismatic ex-con who was at the center of the movement), the poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the novelist William S. Burroughs. Artifacts include a plaid jacket worn by Kerouac and the referee shirt that Cassady wore later in his quirky career, when he drove the novelist and counterculture figure Ken Kesey’s bus, Furthur.

Many of these items were donated, often by people who knew some of the prominent Beats. “We have no budget for acquisitions,” Mr. Cimino, 58, says with a chuckle. “So this is a pretty good way to build a collection.”

What really keeps the Beat Museum humming is its founder’s enthusiasm. “I think a lot of museums start this way,” says Elizabeth Merritt, director of our Center for the Future of Museums, at the American Alliance of Museums in Washington. “They are often the result of an individual or small group’s passions about something.”

Like most small museum proprietors, Mr. Cimino dreams of a bigger space, a curator, a staff. Ms. Merritt says she believes that the timing for the Beat Museum is right. “You’re going to catch the last of the baby boomers who have a personal memory of this period and the ’60s,” she said. “You can still reach some of the people who can say, ‘This is my story.’ ”

For many younger visitors, “On the Road” and the legacy of Kerouac and his cohort is still a fresh story, and the Beat Museum is their introduction to it.

“It’s intriguing,” said Hannah Schumann, a 26-year-old medical worker from Leeds, England, who was on holiday in the United States with her friend, Jak O’Carroll. “I’d definitely heard of Kerouac and the Beats before coming here, but didn’t really know much about them.”

“I’ve read a little Kerouac,” said Michelle Kuzma, 30, from the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. “But I don’t feel like our generation is that exposed to this stuff.” Still, she acknowledged after exploring the museum with her friend, 28-year-old Mike Reaka, “There is something romantic about it.”

The Beats may soon be rediscovered by a wider audience with the Dec. 21 release of a film version of “On the Road.” The director, Walter Salles (“The Motorcycle Diaries,” “Dark Water”), visited the Beat Museum as part of his research on the picture. After it was shot, he donated a 1949 Hudson — the same kind of car used by the Kerouac- and Cassady-based characters in the book. “It was our way to thank the Beat Museum for everything we learned,” said Mr. Salles in an e-mail message. The car, which was also used in the film, was driven by Garrett Hedlund, the actor who plays the character based on Cassady, right up off the street and into the open-front museum.

In a sense the museum does more than celebrate “On the Road” — it is practically an extension of that road. Across the street is the City Lights Bookstore — co-founded by Mr. Ferlinghetti in 1953. Next to that is Vesuvio, a saloon established in 1948 and frequented by many of the Beats; it now offers a “Jack Kerouac” on its drink menu (tequila, rum, orange juice, cranberry juice and a squeeze of lemon). A block away from the museum is Caffé Trieste, a coffeehouse that served as a popular meeting place for writers and poets. “Some of the people there have been hanging out at that place since it began in 1956,” said Mr. Cimino, who also seems to be an unofficial mayor of North Beach, where — thanks in part to his efforts — the ragged flag of the Beat Generation still flies high.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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