Showing posts from January, 2014

Charles Plymell Interviewed By Catfish McDaris 1996

Catfish McDaris Interviews Charles Plymell

"By 1964 a new generation had arrived in San Francisco and made City Lights their rendezvous. Claude Pelieu, a young Frenchman with a thorough understanding of surrealism, had arrived with Mary Beach, the distant cousin of Joyce's publisher . . . and Charles Plymell, a jazzy poet from Kansas, onetime editor of Now, who did sadistic collages. The two Bulletins from Nothing and Grist from Wichita give the prevailing mood. ... Funk in San Francisco, rather different from Ed Sanders's blithe scatology and the total sexual gluttony of Tangier, has at least something to do with the tough spirit that Kansas gives to the West Coast." (Jeff Nuttall, Bomb Culture. [New York: Delacorte Press, 1968], 194.)

CATFISH: With the republication of The Last of the Moccasins by Atom Mind, do you have any plans for a reading tour?

CHARLES: My plans never work.

CATFISH: How has the poetry scene changed since the beat days in San Francisco?


Joan Vollmer Adams Burroughs 1923 - 1951

"Joan Vollmer Adams Burroughs was seminal in the creation of the Beat revolution; indeed the fires that stoked the Beat engine were started with Joan as patron and muse. Her apartment in New York was a nucleus that attracted many of the characters who played a vital role in the formation of the Beat; ... Brilliant and well versed in philosophy and literature, Joan was the whetstone against which the main Beat writers — Allen, Jack, and Bill — sharpened their intellect. Widely considered one of the most perceptive people in the group, her strong mind and independent nature helped bulldoze the Beats toward a new sensibility."

Brenda Knight in "The Women of the Beat Generation."

Burroughs On Work, Where Liars Prosper

I shudder to think that there might be anyone who genuinely disagrees with Burroughs on this one. I have always found it necessary to present a false version of myself at work, and the more I was able to dissemble, the more successful I was; sadly, or perhaps not, I don't seem to do it very well these days.

'I do not see a connection between lying and violation of the law. In fact, there is more lying in the course of a "regular job" most of which require a constant state of pretense and dissimulation. The necessity of a continual misrepresentation of one's personality is most urgent in such lines as radio, advertising, publicity, and, of course, television. [Care, hospital, office & warehouse work too - Bruce.] Personally I find pushing junk a great deal more restful and less compromising from an ethical standpoint.'

William Burroughs, letter to Allen Ginsberg, November 30th, 1948

Burroughs Autographs (2)

The second Burroughs autograph, kindly supplied by Catfish McDaris. If anybody has any more Burroughs ephemera they'd like to share for Centennial Week, please send it to me at

Burroughs Autographs (1)

"Suffolk Punch" friend Catfish McDaris has kindly sent copies of two Burroughs autographs. Here's the first, inscribed on a book I'd personally never heard of. Cheers Catfish.

Neal Cassady Anniversary Bash

February is also an important month in Beat terms because it contains the anniversaries of the birth and death of Neal Cassady, the "secret hero," the "cocksman and Adonis of Denver" in Ginsberg's "Howl," famous also as the model for Kerouac's Dean Moriarty in "On The Road."

Cassady was born in Utah on February 8th 1926; but after the death of his mother, moved to Denver with his alcoholic dad and had a truly Beat upbringing (though the term wasn't in use yet) on Skid Row and in reform school.

Later he became the inspiration for Ginsberg and Kerouac, and then drove Kesey's bus Furthur around America, disturbing younger members of Kesey's troupe because of his resemblance to their own parents. (He was, by that point, older, and gaunt with drug abuse and melancholy.)

Despite the characterisation of Cassady as a boorish sociopath by critics like Kim Newman when Walter Salles' film version of "On The Road" was …

Burroughs On Bureaucracy

'This patent medicine deal is one long beef with the Pure Food and Drug Dept. They are trying to impede the sale of my flouride tablets for tooth decay. "Death County Bill's Tooth and Bone Tablets from The County Without a Toothache." I am concocting an aphrodisiac which the Dept. will probably regard with even less enthusiasm.'

WSB, letter to Allen Ginsberg, September 1st, 1946

William S. Burroughs Centennial Week

On February 5th, William S. Burroughs would have been 100 years old. Burroughs, with his razor-like intelligence and impatience with all bullshit, sentimental or otherwise, would probably have called that a meaningless statement. He's dead, so what he would have been makes no difference.

He may be right too. But this is the centennial, and history does measure its progress by significant markers. So I am declaring the week leading up to Burroughs' birthday William S. Burroughs Centennial week at "Suffolk Punch"; and using the anniversary to explore the literary importance and cultural legacy of the man. I also intend to indulge myself and those of my readers who love Burroughs with an unashamed orgy of pictures, videos and quotes from his books and interviews.

It will be a boring ride for some, no doubt; and an unpleasant ride for others. For those with open minds I hope it will be as thrilling as it is instructive. But if we all hold hands and walk fearlessly thr…

How The Beatles Got Out Of The ABC

As everyone over a certain age in Northampton knows, the great white edifice at the top of Abington Street, which Charles Bradlaugh's statue points sternly past, hasn't always been occupied by the Jesus Army. Once it was a cinema, and on November 6th 1963 an up-and-coming band called The Beatles played there.

I've often wondered about that show. I've even written a poem (of sorts) about it. I suppose it fascinates me because we rarely come so close to the absolute centre of history. I walk past the building where that concert took place all the time. And John Lennon bloody well played inside.

I found out more about it today. Well, not the show, so much as how it ended. The Beatles, who had no doubt employed the same tactic at gigs across the country, sent decoy Beatles (mock mop tops?) out through the main entrance and escaped out of the rear. They raced across what's now the multi-storey car park and into the building where--appropriately--the Spiral Archive re…

Speaking Truth To Power: Pete Seeger, 94, Has Passed

How could Hitler have been stopped? Litvinov, the Soviet delegate to the League of Nations in '36, proposed a worldwide quarantine but got no takers. For more on those times check out pacifist Dave Dellinger's book, From Yale to Jail ... At any rate, today I'll apologize for a number of things, such as thinking that Stalin was merely a "hard driver" and not a "supremely cruel misleader." I guess anyone who calls himself a Christian should be prepared to apologize for the Inquisition, the burning of heretics by Protestants, the slaughter of Jews and Muslims by Crusaders. White people in the U.S.A. ought to apologize for stealing land from Native Americans and enslaving blacks. Europeans could apologize for worldwide conquests, Mongolians for Genghis Khan. And supporters of Roosevelt could apologize for his support of Somoza, of Southern White Democrats, of Franco Spain, for putting Japanese Americans in concentration camps. Who should my granddaughter Mo…

12 Years a Slave

I was in the pub once with a white friend of mine and some of the black members of his family. They’d come along to see him at a work night out and he introduced us. I was very drunk—this was when I could still drink—so I don’t remember much about them; only that his sister, his black sister, was beautiful and sharply funny.

We’d been sitting there for however long it was when a white work colleague, who’d had a crush on my friend for years, wandered over to the table, or rather stumbled and crashed—she was short, round and pissed—and leaned into my friend’s face, breathing alcohol and spicy food all over him. She demanded an introduction. My friend, who would normally have told her to fuck off, did as he was asked; he was behaving more politely because his family were there. And then the work colleague, addressing the whole table with drunken mumbling sincerity, proceeded to namecheck Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Chuck D from Public Enemy in a few short sentences.

After she’d m…

He Changed My Life: Thirty Years With Bob Dylan (Part 2)


I’ve been a Dylan fan for thirty years this year. I don’t remember exactly when we met but I’m pretty sure it was sometime in the summer, when the days were long and empty and the weather was tepid. But however early or late I may be for the anniversary, thirty years is a long, long time. In fact, coming as I do from a pretty dysfunctional family, and not finding until 2009 someone I wanted to live with and love more than I wanted to escape from and forget, you could say without fear of contradiction that I’ve known Bob longer than I’ve known anyone in my life.

Of course, it hasn’t always been easy to walk the road with such a difficult, intransigent, occasionally perverse artist. I became a Dylan fan in the 80s and the second part of that decade seemed, then anyway (I haven’t thought about it much until now) his lowest point artistically. He seemed to be on the cusp of a great new flowering of his creative genius with “Infidels” and “Empire Burlesque” but the appearance at L…

He Changed My Life: Thirty Years With Bob Dylan (Part 1)


Zen people talk sometimes about sudden awakening. That’s awakening as in enlightenment. When the whole deal, the true nature of everything, is revealed to you in a flash like fireworks over Tokyo. There was one guy who became enlightened on the subway, not even a monk. I can’t remember who the hell it was but I know I read about him somewhere.

That’s the way it was with Bob Dylan and me. Bam, the whole midnight mental world I’d been living in since my breakdown of the year before lit up like high noon. I could see and I could understand. Before Dylan I’d been dying of sadness and confusion because I thought nobody loved me and nobody else could see how ugly everything had become. This all sounds crazy. Maybe it is. But it’s the truth at least and before I heard Dylan I don’t think I’d ever heard the truth.

The album was “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” I bought it one day in Wellingborough because I had some money in my pocket and I was looking to try a new thing; I’d read Dylan’s…

Guest Post: "Diablo and Jimi" by Catfish McDaris

Diablo And Jimi

by Catfish McDaris

Uncle Bob called me from just north of Detroit, Michigan where he was stationed in the Air Force. He said he needed my help for three weeks, packing up his furniture and cleaning his house. He was getting a new assignment in Lubbock, Texas. I told him to mail me a plane ticket and I’d help drive his Chevy Impala to Buddy Holly country for him.

The Air Force base had a huge lake; my uncle said I could fish if I wanted. I went down to docks and there were motor boats and fishing gear for rent. The man that ran the office thought he was big stuff. I was seventeen and had long hair, I guess he thought that would make me into some kind of sissy boy. There was another young guy there watching how I handled this man. I laid some cash on the counter and told him to fix me up. The other guy asked if he could join me and I agreed. I noticed his eyes seemed strange like a cross between a goat and a Siamese cat. The motor cranked right up, we had poles, and bai…