When most people envision the Beat Generation, they probably start with a vision of Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg, stumbling into a bar in New York City, rambling on about Nebraska and staring into the electric religion of the American plains. Or perhaps people think of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, printing copies of Gasoline or Howl and handing them out to the citizens of San Francisco.
Well, it's easy to forget a group of Southern California Beats were creating a renaissance right here in Venice. And in celebration of the Beats, the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA will be performing a live staging of Ginsberg's Kaddish at Royce Hall on Wednesday, in the midst of many other Beat-related events UCLA is putting on.
We put together a list of 10 essential Beat landmarks in Los Angeles to celebrate the tradition. Thanks to William Mohr, Mike "The Poet" Sonksen and Pegarty Long for their help.
10. Francisco Letelier Mural at 512 Rose Ave, Venice
Venice was the epicenter of beat culture in the 50s. In the mural above (painted by Francisco Letelier) two legends, Stuart Perkoff and Philomene Long, of the Venice West Renaissance are depicted. They were husband and wife, and Perkoff was the quintessential "Beat" poet in Venice. He was renowned for his book, Voices of the Lady, but he was loved for his public readings.
9. Sunset and Vine
Jack Kerouac famously thought L.A. was a terribly lonely city, but he also wrote a couple excellent passages in the City of Angels. And it might be unfair to claim Sunset and Vine as strictly "Beat," but Kerouac in On the Road wrote: "We went to Hollywood to try to work in the drugstore at Sunset and Vine. Now there was a corner! Great families off jalopies from the hinterlands stood around the sidewalk gaping for sight of some movie star, and the movie star never showed up...Handsome queer boys who had come to Hollywood to be cowboys walked around, wetting their eyebrows with dirty fingertip. The most beautiful little gone gals in the world cut by in slacks; they came to be starlets; they ended up in drive-ins."