San Francisco has always been at the heart of the Beat Generation. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore is a must for anyone who wants to see the North Beach location where Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl! was first published and sold. Ginsberg went on to fame and organizing Beat events, the last held in 1995 in New York City. From June 26 through June 28, the Beat Generation will again shine in San Francisco as the Beat Museum holds their Beatnik Shindig there. The event is designed to appeal to a broad audience of novices, experts, scholars and casual observers. It will be a great place for Beat fans to meet, network, interact and learn.
The Beats still resonate with people because their themes are timeless. Travel, exploration, a search for self, sexual identity and a spiritual quest were keystones of the Beat. Movement. They blazed a trail for social issues, playing apart in movements such as racial equality, gender equality, gay and lesbian rights, environmentalism and saving the planet. Music was heavily influence by the Beat movement, from the cool jazz that was a trademark of the Beats through groups that later came along like the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Several songs from the Grateful Dead allude to the Beats and one of it’s most prominent figureheads, Neal Cassady. The Beats were also among the first to use media to disseminate their message around the world.
The three day event will take place in two locations. Daytime events will be held at Fort Mason Center on San Francisco Bay, while evening events will be held at the epicenter of the Beat Generation’s West Coast movement, North Beach. Educational events include poetry readings, seminars and classes. Such diverse topics will be covered as The San Francisco Beat: Sex, Drugs, Art and Poetry; Self Publishing in 2015; Neal Cassady: The Denver Years; Cafe L.A.: The Beat Generation in Los Angeles; Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder; Young Scholars Discuss the Beats; Wally Hedrick: From the Six Gallery to Jerry Garcia; The Politics of Poetry; and The Beach: North Beach in the 1050’s. Finally, ruth weiss (no capitals), called the “Goddess of the Beat Generation” by Herb Caen, will be the subject of an evening of poetry and jazz.
Several interesting speakers who were closely associated with the Beat Generation will also be making presentations. David Amram, who collaborated with Jack Kerouac for 12 years, from their first public jazz/poetry readings on, will share poetry and music from the ’50s. Cathi, Jami and John Cassady will share memories of their father, Neal Cassady along with family friend Al Hinkle (‘Big Ed Dunkel’ in Kerouac’s On the Road). They will also reminisce about Jack Kerouac, an intimater family friend and Allen Ginsberg. Dr. Phillip Hicks, Allen Ginsberg’s psychiatrist and the person who told Ginsberg that it was OK to “live an authentic life” when he was torn about his homosexuality will talk about his experience. Mark Olmstead will talk about his 25 year relationship with Ginsberg in his presentation.
Other events will provide plenty of entertainment. A Beatnik Shindig pre-party with libations and live music will start off the weekend. A Hudson car show, with cars such as the 1949 Hudson Commodore, Neal Cassady’s car of choice, will be presented by the Nor-Cal Hudson Club. The Hudsons were known as the race car of choice, one of the reasons it appealed to Neal, the “fastest man alive”. Comedian Will Durst shares the secrets to success in his workshop A Beatnik Walks into a Bar……, one of many free events at the Beatnik Shindig. Another free event will channel your inner Maynard G. Krebs and Zelda with the Beatnik Yoga event, Wake Up Beatnik Shindig Style! All in all, there will be plenty to do and see at the Beatnik Shindig.
Information on the event can be obtained from their website, www.beatnikshindig.com. Events at the Beatnik Shindig include both free events and paid events. A special VIP Pass is also available that includes access to the pre-party early for a private cocktail hour, priority seating, first-in-line seating to all free events and a VIP Goodie Bag. Hotels in San Francisco for the event can also be arranged through the website with special event pricing. Can you dig it?