THE THIRD MIND BOOKS JUNE MONTHLY SPECIAL is titled “Beat Treasures from the Vault,” and showcases twenty-five exceptional items that we have yet to include in our feature series. The authors are many, and of such wide-reaching consequence that it was a historian’s delight assembling them & reflecting on how interconnected these authors were as artists & friends, “from the west down to the east,” to quote Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” We’ve got items from LEW WELCH, RICHARD BRAUTIGAN, JACK KEROUAC (an item from Kerouac’s personal library!), GARY SNYDER, LEROI JONES/AMIRI BARAKA, ROBERT CREELEY, ED DORN, LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI, JOANNE KYGER, MICHAEL McCLURE, RAY BREMSER, HAROLD NORSE, WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS, JOHN WIENERS, CHARLES OLSON, CLAUDE PELIEU, & ED SANDERS, a personal favorite.
Why a “May Monthly Special” but no newsletter installment last month you may (pun intended?!) ask? Well, things at Third Mind Books have been busier than ever, with a pile of scholastic inquiries regarding Thomas Rain Crowe and the Second San Francisco Renaissance still to get to the bottom of and time flying by fast as ever. The Third Mind Books Presentation at the European Beat Studies Network Conference (this year in Paris, France), as alluded to in an earlier newsletter, will be based on TRC’s vigorous involvement at the nexus of literary San Francisco, where Crowe & Co. learned from & worked alongside many of the anthologized & mythologized figures of oft-recounted Beat lore. Upon reviewing the archive we purchased from Thomas Rain Crowe directly and attempting to do the prerequisite research required to give it the full Third Mind Books curation, what we found was a virtual drop-off in recorded literary history. There was no simple, authoritative sources one could turn to—unlike how, when someone wants to learn about The Beat Hotel, likely all they’ll ever care to know is conveniently packaged in Barry Miles’ essential tome on that topic. This does not exist with Thomas Rain Crowe & his contemporaries, and we’re grateful and excited to be pioneering a study on a virtually neglected, yet integral period of Beat-&-Beyond literary history. September sure seems far away now, but if the last four presentations we’ve delivered at EBSN taught us anything, it’s that time flies when you’re inveterate perfectionists and it’s always best to act now. Our appearance at the Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair, too took up much time and effort. In support of the book fair, Third Mind Books released two new catalogs, Beat Across the Map (TMB Catalog No. 6) & Relics of the Trendsetting Underground (TMB Catalog No. 7), both soon to be available in PDF format in the “Catalogs” section of our site.
Another reason for this rare bi-monthly installment to The Fine Print Newsletter was my pilgrimage to New York City, where I met with John Tytell, the groundbreaking biographer & historian whose revolutionary efforts enabled The Beat Generation to rightfully become an eligible subject for academic inquiry. Our Founder & Senior Curator Arthur S. Nusbaum interviewed Tytell for his acclaimed 2016 Presentation at EBSN. A link to that presentation can be found here: https://youtu.be/Y3jxktlno7Q
I had the privilege of meeting with John twice, once at a café in the West Village near his home, and again later that week in a dually memorable experience. After I asked to attend one of his lectures, he offered to drive me to a class he was giving at CUNY, Queens College, where he has been a distinguished professor for over forty years and still teaches. Tytell himself brought up the analogy of being driven by William S. Burroughs to the class Burroughs was teaching at NYU, where WSB had taken over for Kurt Vonnegut, who specifically requested WSB take his place. What an honor to be in this position, now being driven by the man giving the lecture to the class, with Tytell and WSB himself the other acting figures in this analogy! Tytell delivered an incredible lecture on Jack Kerouac & On the Road. He memorably recited some of the book’s quintessential passages, stopping to offer sage conjectures on Kerouac’s relevance, then proceeding in his usual encyclopedic manner with fact over bricklaying fact until a fortress of scholarship stood in inarguable illumination of the topic at hand.
After Tytell, I had another magnitudinous meeting in store—an opportunity to meet with the legendary Ed Sanders in Woodstock, NY, where Ed has lived and acted as an “unofficial city father,” as he himself told me, for many years. In a previous installment of The Fine Print Newsletter, I hammered home a Sanders 101 of-sorts, describing his involvement not only as a counterculture figure, revolutionary publisher, and poetic innovator, but also his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement & other distinguishing details. During our meeting, Ed told me that his love for the town of Woodstock and lifelong commitment as an ecological & environmental activist led him to writing the zoning law and environmental law for the town of Woodstock, laws that still stand today. He’s also hard at work on a few books, and I salivated when he told me of his unpublished autobiography—totaling some 2000 pages—all focused on material NOT INCLUDED in his seminal memoir, FUG YOU: An Informal History of The Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, the Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side. I had to drive straight from Woodstock that sunny afternoon all the way back to Ann Arbor, but as a songwriter myself, there was one destination after my meeting with Ed that I just couldn’t leave without stopping off at: Big Pink.
Big Pink is where Bob Dylan and The Band recorded the incredibly influential Basement Tapes, and where Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Levon Helm lived & worked on material that became their eponymous debut record, Music from Big Pink. While at Big Pink, Dylan & The Band compiled some 200+ recordings and wrote some of the most influential and enduring material penned on American land to date. Lately I’ve been devouring Robbie Robertson’s recently published memoir, Testimony—which I feel as fervently about as I do Fug You—and Robertson’s life is certainly much like Sanders’ in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time & oh-shit-I’m-walking-into-history nature of his life: episodes as varied as nights with Edie Sedgwick and a visit with Dr. Feelgood, Max Jacobson himself the morning after, to cocktail parties with Warhol & Co. at Salvador Dali’s. One incredible passage relates being 10 feet across from Bob Dylan as he wrote “I Shall Be Released.” Robertson himself penned the classic tune “To Kingdom Come” literally as Bob was writing “I Shall Be Released.” They’d sit there with the other directly in front of them writing two different songs on two different typewriters. Big Pink was a place all about the work, about the collaborative creation of art and getting your brain on record. The stories Robertson relates in this vein are incredible, just like the one above. Garth may be tinkering with his Lowrey Organ, hard at work on his latest hot-rodding efforts (of which there were many). While that was happening, Rick, Richard & Levon could be working out harmonies, memorizing lyrics, or pinning down individual parts. It was like a “song factory,” an idea whose inspiration came for him out of the Brill Building and Tin Pan Alley songwriting of legend more than the Warholian “Factory” concept, which took place shortly before The Band’s time in Woodstock—although Robertson’s relations with Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol very well may have had a similar inspiration on him.
One of the great pleasures of being collectors, of being budding or blossomed scholars & historians, is this continual sense of discovery, the intimacy felt when we apprehend our relation to the past—one that never fails to occur when we finally take the time to study it. As “curators” and not merely “booksellers,” we champion this truth, applying it to each item’s curation so we can enrich the strength & scholarship of our Beat-&-Beyond “brothersisterhood,” to steal a word from Neeli Cherkovski.
So, until next time, take a look at these incredible selections, 10% off for the month of June only, and don’t spare yourself the satisfaction that only deep scholarship can give!
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