Yesterday, at Mike Manno's blog, Mike asked me about spare time and I said "In my spare time, I drink scotch and complain that I don't have time to write."  No one has spare time these days.  We are all far too busy for that.  But every now and then life conspires to give us time.  Yesterday, was one of those days.

I found myself in need of a quick trip to Washington DC yesterday.  An errand of sorts.  A conversation.  But it's nearly 400 miles round-trip to run that errand, to have that conversation.  So I took the train.  Two and-a-half hours each way.  Five hours that were given to me yesterday, just for me.

On the way down to DC, I wrote.  Last time I told you about Cassie, she was strapped to a long spine board.  You'll be glad to know that she's doing better now.

And on the trip home, I read The Beats: A Graphic History with text by Harvey Pekar et al, and art by Ed Piskor et al.  Harvey Pekar is probably best known for American Splendor.  (Ed Piskor did most of the art work for American Splendor).

The Beats is
          (a)  satisfying
          (b)  disappointing
          (c)  neither satisfying nor disappointing
          (d)  both satisfying and disappointing

(Don't you just hate multiple choice questions?)

The correct answer is The Beats is a flawed project that overcomes its flaws to deliver a satisfying trip through two decades of writers and poets.  The introduction to the book lays it out for you - "The book before you is a comic art production with no pretension to the depth of coverage and literary interpretation presented by hundreds of scholarly books in many languages, a literature also constantly growing.  It has a different virtue, curiously in line, somehow, with the original vernacular popularization of the Beats."

So when I get to the two page, eight panel biography of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the last panel reads, "Like Rexroth, Ferlinghetti was a fine poet, but furthered the art in other ways as well" I feel cheated by the editorial decision.  But that seems nitpicky to me.  After all, how many "comic art productions" even know who Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Rexroth were?

So, if you're looking to fill some of that spare time as you cross off the days until National Poetry Month, pick up a copy of The Beats.  You'll get Kerouac and Ginsberg and Burroughs of course, but also Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Gary Snyder, Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima, Philip Lamantia and a whole lot more. 



(The errand was successfully completed.  The conversation was had.  Life is good).

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