February 15, 2010

As you probably know, I like Dorothy Parker. I even named my cat after her.

But you may or may not know that I hate “On the Road.” I think it’s an awful book, with awful writing, that it’s about absolutely nothing, and that it doesn’t deserve 1/100th the respect it gets. And I think the other “great works” of that movement are no better.

Well, recently a brilliant friend found some Studs Terkel interviews on CD, one of which was with Mrs. Parker, from 1959. She had this to say:

Studs Terkel: Chicago was invaded last week by three Beat Generation poets—

Dorothy Parker: Ah yes.

ST: —and would you mind, since you read a great many books, this is part of your job for Esquire, your feeling about seemingly outspoken poets, writers, who represent this.

DP: I don’t know what they’re speaking out about. I know they’re speaking, they’re speaking all the time, as we sit here, at least they’re putting something down on paper—it isn’t writing—but it’s something they’re doing. But I don’t know what they’re so brave about. You read their books, and the description of their lives, it’s so monotonous, the things they do. And I don’t know why they’re so revolutionary, that was all done a long time ago.

ST: So you feel there’s nothing new really that they’re saying.

DP: Nothing at all. The Beat Boys I don’t think are saying anything on Earth except “look at us, aren’t we great.” I don’t think the Beat Generation is worth much worrying about. I should say, oh very soon, in the very near future, they’ll be as forgotten as Mahjong.

If only she’d been right about their being forgotten!


The flight pattern of books

November 29, 2008

Posted by Nick Sarno


There is a little corner in North Beach that has been under construction for the past couple of months. Every time I cross the street there, I have to wait for the construction workers to wave me through. And when they do, I have to hurry along because the mini bulldozer revs its engines just a few inches from my arm. I just assumed they were extending the pavement to widen the sidewalk. They weren’t. They were doing this:



The piece, by Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn, is made up of twenty-three illuminated white polycarbonate book suspended in midair. Etched into the concrete below are words that appear to have fallen from their pages, and all of the text is taken from San Francisco (specifically North Beach) authors, spanning the past 150 years. 


The full story is at