Own a William S. Burroughs methadone bottle
10.08.2013
12:23 pm

Topics:
Drugs
Literature

Tags:
William S. Burroughs
Beats

burroughs methadone bottle
 
What do you get the Beat-lit enthusiast who has everything? How about one of William S Burroughs’ prescription methadone bottles, filled with rocks from his grave and a shell fired from one of his guns? No lie, this is a thing you can actually obtain. San Francisco’s PBA Galleries are auctioning a MASSIVE collection of books and memorabilia, including, among many wonderful books, a first edition hardcover of Dune, a signed 1959 copy of Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island Of The Mind, a complete run of all 14 issues of Avant Garde magazine, an original drawing by Charles Bukowski, a collection of Henry Miller vinyl records, and a William Burroughs grocery list, disappointingly bereft of ammunition or narcotics. Plenty of marvelous old comics and pulp mags, as well, but nothing else in the auction even comes close to the methadone bottle in terms of sheer what-the-fuckness. Bidding opens on Thursday, October 10, at 11 AM Pacific Time.

While you’re browsing the lots and drooling over the temptations contained therein, enjoy Destroy All Rational Thought, the Burroughs/ Bryon Gysin documentary that includes one of Burroughs’ final interviews.
 

Written by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
The Feminist backlash against The Beat Generation: Cool, finger-poppin’ daddies or misogynist jerks?


 
I first noticed a backlash against the Beats when it was announced a few years ago that Walter Salles was making a film of Jack Kerouac’s novel On The Road, with Kristen Stewart cast as Marylou, Sam Riley as Sal Paradise, Garrett Hudlund as Dean Moriarty, and Viggo Mortensen as Old Bull Lee.

You expect to hear negative comments from aging conservative academics in English departments or that weird PhD candidate from the East Coast who supposedly had an “influential” zine once but hated every writer who didn’t sound exactly like William Faulkner.

But this round of anti-Beat Generation comments was coming from much younger people posting on non-academic literary forums, and not just 4Chan’s /lit/ board.

I visited Kerouac’s entire On The Road scroll, purchased by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for $2.5 million in 2001, displayed in its entirety, on a day when a fourth grade public school class was on a field trip to the same museum. I had seen the scroll previously when it had been laid out in thirds elsewhere, necessitating multiple visits. This time it took up an entire corridor. I didn’t get to meet the delightful hippie who travels with the scroll simply to set it up and take it down wherever it is being shown. I was peering at the typewritten text peppered with handwritten notes and corrections, ignoring the stares of the security guards who apparently thought I was going to stuff the scroll in my purse and bolt. I was also trying not to snicker at the conversation of a group of nine-year-olds looking at the nearby vintage Playboy cover featuring Marilyn Monroe (also part of Irsay’s collection) displayed on the wall above the scroll’s case.

“Who’s that?”

“It’s Madonna.”

“No, that’s not Madonna. It’s Ke$ha.”

“No, it’s Gaga!”

Their teacher asked me a question about the scroll, obviously assuming that I was a museum employee. When I explained that I was just a visitor, she apologized and said, “But I didn’t think women read Kerouac.”

That was news to me.

The backlash against the Beats in general, and Kerouac in particular, is becoming more evident and is mostly coming from Feminists.

In 2010 blogger Alexa Offenhauer imagined the domestic circumstances around Kerouac’s creation of the scroll in her post “It’ll All Be Worth It If I Get Published, or: Why I Hate Jack Kerouac”:

I can just imagine the scene, can’t you? There he is, playing with his tracing paper, painstakingly cutting it and taping it back together like the world’s first scrapbooker, all while taking himself very seriously and refusing to take any pleasure from his crafty pursuit. Then, just when his poor wife thinks that maybe he is done with the insanity and they can go for a nice walk in the park, he sits himself in the corner at his typewriter, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, and starts a typing frenzy that, as far as she is concerned, may never end.

Imagine the smell that emanated from that corner of the apartment by the end of those three weeks. The ungodly mess of cigarette ash, butts, apple cores, coffee mugs, chicken bones, and dead skin cells that must have littered the floor around him. At least, that is what it would have looked like at the end of those three weeks if I had been his wife. Minus the chicken bones, of course, because I would not have cooked for him and I doubt seriously he would have managed it for himself.

But maybe Joan Haverty not only cooked but also cleaned for him. Maybe she reminded him go to the bathroom and maybe, if she was very skillful, managed to get him in and out of the shower once or twice during that time.

I like to think that she had an affair with the grocer or the mailman while he was lost in his self-imposed, self-consumed insanity, but then I’ve always been optimistic.

Regardless of how she got through those three weeks, by the end of it, she must have been breathing an enormous sigh of relief. No matter how bohemian she was, no matter how much she believed in her husband’s literary genius, as he finally sat up, rubbed his eyes, and said, “I’m finished,” I can’t believe that she thought anything other than, “Thank God, now maybe he can sell this damn thing and then we can move to a place with a cross breeze.”

But no. After that three week marathon, which itself came after years and years of planning and working, it took him another nine years to perfect his manuscript and finally sell it.

Last August a conflict erupted first over an article on The Millions about a literary matchmaking service, Between The Covers, at an independent bookstore in Brooklyn, WORD. Kerouac fan and co-author of Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ Stephanie Nikolopoulos wrote “On The Highway of Love, Jack Kerouac Divides Men And Women”:

Then I encountered a woman who openly disdained Kerouac – and all that he seemed to represent. It occurred to me that women saw him as a misogynist vagabond, the bad boy who had left their broken hearts in a trail of exhaust fumes. He didn’t like being tied down by responsibilities or women. Perhaps those female readers who actually did like his writing feared adding Kerouac to their list of favorite authors for a literary matchmaking board because they didn’t want to end up with someone like him: a penniless drifter, a dreamer, an alcoholic…

In a work written by a man, the female character is usually going to be the subject of the male gaze. If that work happens to be On The Road, you’re going to end up with women like Marylou and Camille, flat characters being two-timed by hyperactive car-thief Dean Moriarty. It’s no wonder then that many women, even when they put his personal lives aside, don’t relate to Kerouac’s story.

Jezebel‘s Katie J.M. Baker wrote in response, “Why Don’t Women Like Jack Kerouac?”, dismissing the Beats as “kind of immature dicks” and asking “Do any non-teenage women actually like Jack Kerouac’s On The Road?” (Her own answer to this question is – inaccurately – no.)

“Whenever anyone tells me they ‘adore’ On The Road – which doesn’t happen often because I don’t hang out with sixteen-year-olds – I can’t help but think she or he isn’t particularly well-read, just eager to come off as adventurous, spontaneous, and/or sexy.”

One of Baker’s commenters likened being a woman who enjoys Kerouac to being a black person who likes Gone With The Wind or a banker who likes The Communist Manifesto. Another interesting take by a reader was that Dean Moriarty was actually Kerouac’s manifestation of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope.

On April 8th this year the goddess herself Kim Gordon tweeted: “[Beat] role models are over rated. Set male evolution back to caveman era,” possibly referencing her ex-husband’s new band (Chelsea Light Moving) and their song “Burroughs.”

Is it fair to morally judge an artist’s work based on how he lived his life if all of his work is autobiographical and barely fictionalized?

Personally if I purged my bookshelves, real and virtual, of all the alcoholics and misanthropes – let alone all the manic-depressives, opium addicts, suicides, eccentric asexuals, adulterers and misogynists – I would hardly have any books left. In fact, I would probably have remaining to me some dictionaries, an anonymous booklet on reciting the Divine Mercy chaplet, The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (first edition), and my husband’s copy of Henley’s Formulas for Home & Workshop.

So it would be a real bummer if from now on when I read On The Road I have to take Dean Moriarty not as a fictional, folkloric, mythic, modern Western American character but as the actual man (Neal Cassady) on which Moriarty is based, who, to be fair, was rather fucked-up. I don’t want to be a Monday morning armchair shrink and classify Moriarty as a likely bipolar, child molesting, sex addict, kleptomaniac, sociopath with ADHD who abused cannabis, amphetamines, hallucinogenics (later) and every woman who crossed his charismatic path. I don’t research Buddhism to determine whether the kind portrayed in The Dharma Bums is accurate and doctrinally sound either.

Taking Beat literature out of the context of the time and culture in which it was written robs it of too much of its power and importance. It’s unrealistic to examine written works from the late 1940’s and 1950’s and excoriate their views of women based on modern Feminist standards that would have been quite alien to men and women of that time. (Have these anti-Beat critics have ever even met and conversed with real-life old men in their eighties and nineties?)

Ted Joans’ line “So you want to be hip little girls?” from his poem “The Sermon” is over the top, yes, but try finding literature written by men from the post-war era that didn’t contain some degree of chauvinism and less than perfect female characterization.

Despite Kerouac’s many flaws, Nikolopoulos summed up the influence that On The Road had on her life as a young woman:

It didn’t occur to me that I needed a boyfriend or even a friend to accompany me to art galleries or readings or to make my life full. I wasn’t looking for my Jack Kerouac. I was Jack Kerouac.

Below, Jack Kerouac on ‘The Steve Allen Show,’ 1959:
 

Written by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
Allen Ginsberg’s recipe for Cold Summer Borscht

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Ah, Borscht—a soup of Ukranian origin that has been popular in many Eastern and Central European countries for centuries. This is Allen Ginsberg’s version of the recipe.

COLD SUMMER BORSCHT

Dozen beets cleaned & chopped to bite size salad-size Strips
Stems & leaves also chopped like salad lettuce
All boiled together lightly salted to make a bright red soup,
with beets now soft - boil an hour or more
Add Sugar & Lemon Juice to make the red liquid
sweet & sour like Lemonade
Chill 4 gallon(s) of beet liquid -
Serve with (1) Sour Cream on table
(2) Boiled small or halved potato
on the side
i.e. so hot potatoes don’t heat the
cold soup prematurely
(3) Spring salad on table to put into
cold red liquid
1) Onions - sliced (spring onions)
2) Tomatoes - sliced bite-sized
3) Lettuce - ditto
4) Cucumbers - ditto
5) a few radishes
__________________________________
for Summer Dinner

Above Allen Ginsberg eats breakfast.
 
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Via The Allen Ginsberg Project
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘The Burning Ghat’: Short film starring original Beat Herbert Huncke

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The Burning Ghat is a strange, yet revealing short film that reveals something of the relationship between original Beat, Herbert Huncke, and his long-time companion and room-mate, Louis Cartwright.

Huncke was a petty crook and junkie, who hustled around Times Square in the 1940s, where he met William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. It was Huncke who originally introduced these 3 young writers to the “Beat Life,” and became a major inspiration on their writing.

Not long after meeting him, Ginsberg wrote in his journal:

Who is Herbert Huncke? When I first knew him I saw him in what I considered the ‘glamorous’ light of a petty criminal and Times Square hustler who was experienced in the ways, thoughts, and activities of an underground culture which is enormously extensive. The attempt to dismiss him because of his social irresponsibility is something that I was never able to conceive as truthful or productive. I saw him as a self-damned soul—but a soul nonetheless, aware of itself and others in a strangely perceptive and essentially human way. He has great charm. I see that he suffers, more than myself, more than anyone I know of perhaps; suffers like a saint of old in the making; and also has cosmic or supersensory perceptions of an extraordinary depth and openness.

Louis Cartwright was a photographer (he took the portrait of Huncke above), drug addict and alleged pimp. According to Huncke, he was also someone not to be trusted. In 1994, Cartwright was stabbed to death, and his murder still remains unsolved.

The Burning Ghat was directed by James Rasin (Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar) and Jerome Poynton, and was filmed in Huncke’s apartment on Henry Street, New York.

Allen Ginsberg wrote of the film, “O Rare Herbert Huncke, live on film! The Burning Ghat features late-in-lifetime old partners Huncke & Louis playing characters beyond themselves with restrained solid self-awareness, their brief masquerade of soul climaxing in an inspired moment’s paradox bittersweet as an O’Henry’s tale’s last twist”.

Harry Smith said of the film, “It should have been longer”.

The Burning Ghat was featured at the 53rd Venice Biennial, and included in the Whitney Museum’s “Beat Culture and the New America” show of 1996. It won the Gold Plaque Award for Best Short Film at the 1990 Chicago International Film Festival.

Made the same year Huncke published his autobiography Guilty of Everything, this was to be his only on-screen, acting performance.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘Original Beats’: A film on Herbert Hunke and Gregory Corso


 
Out-takes from ‘Original Beats’ featuring Herbert Huncke, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Legendary poet Christopher Logue reads: ‘I shall vote Labour’

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In 1964, The British Labour Party was elected into government with a slim majority of 4 seats. Such a small majority made governing the country difficult for canny Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. Therefore, after 17 months in power, Wilson called a second election. In support of winning re-election, the Labour Party’s magazine, Tribune asked a selection of writers and artists who they would vote for in the 1966 General Election. In response, sensing Labour might not hold to their socialist ideals, poet Christopher Logue wrote the poem “I shall vote Labour.”

I shall vote Labour

I shall vote Labour because
God votes Labour.
I shall vote Labour to protect
the sacred institution of The Family.
I shall vote Labour because
I am a dog.
I shall vote Labour because
upper-class hoorays annoy me in expensive restaurants.
I shall vote Labour because
I am on a diet.
I shall vote Labour because if I don’t
somebody else will:
AND
I shall vote Labour because if one person
does it
everybody will be wanting to do it.
I shall vote Labour because if I do not vote Labour
my balls will drop off.
I shall vote Labour because
there are too few cars on the road.
I shall vote Labour because I am
a hopeless drug addict.
I shall vote Labour because
I failed to be a dollar millionaire aged three.
I shall vote Labour because Labour will build
more maximum security prisons.
I shall vote Labour because I want to shop
in an all-weather precinct stretching from Yeovil to Glasgow.
I shall vote Labour because
the Queen’s stamp collection is the best
in the world.
I shall vote Labour because
deep in my heart
I am a Conservative.

Christopher Logue was a poet, writer, journalist, dramatist, screenwriter, actor and performer. Born in Portsmouth, in 1926, Logue was an only child of middle-aged parents. After school, he served in the Black Watch regiment, from which he was given a court-martial for selling stolen pay books, and given a 16-months’ jail sentence.

On release, he moved to Paris and started his career as a writer and poet, ‘out of complete failure to be interested by what was happening in London at the time.’

‘It was so drab. There was nowhere to go. You couldn’t seem to meet any girls. If you went up to London in 1951, looking for the literary scene, what did you find? Dylan Thomas. I thought that if I came to the place where Pound flourished, I might too.’

In Paris, Logue met writer Alexander Trocchi (who saved Logue from an attempted suicide), and the pair set-up and edited the legendary literary magazine Merlin, which premiered work by Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Chester Himes, as well as Logue and Trocchi. The pair also wrote pornographic novels for Maurice Girodias’ Olympia Press, and briefly met William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso in the late 1950s.

George Whitman, propietor of Shakespeare and Co., described the pairing of Trocchi and Logue as:

‘True bohemians, Beats before Beats officially existed. Christopher was the scruffy poet, quite down and out most of the time. He definitely fancied himself as Baudelaire or somebody like that.’

In Paris, Logue toyed with Marxism, and was once famously put down by the author Richard Wright.

‘You’ve got nothing to fight for, boy—you’re looking for a fight. If you were a black, boy, you’re so cheeky you’d be dead.’

But Logue lost none of his mettle, or his socialist convictions and he continued to be a gadfly throughout his life. In the 1960s, he collaborated with Lindsay Anderson, giving poetry readings at the National Film Theater between features. He was a pacifist and a member of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, taking part with Bertrand Russell on the marches to Aldermarston.

He appeared at Peter Cook’s club The Establishment and wrote songs for jazz singer Annie Ross, and had one recorded by Joan Baez. He also appeared at the Isle of Wight Rock Festival, and contributed the wonderfully bizarre “True Stories” to Private Eye magazine. He acted for Ken Russell in The Devils, wrote the screenplay for Russell’s Savage Messiah, and acted in Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky. Logue’s poetry was incredibly popular, even appearing in posters throughout the London Underground. His most famous works were Red Bird, a jazz colaboration with Tony Kinsey, and War Music, a stunning and critically praised adaption of Homer’s Illiad. He was awarded the 2005 Whitbread Poetry Prize for his collection Cold Calls.

Logue died in 2011, and Wilson won the 1966 election with a majority of 96 seats.

This is Christopher Logue reading “I shall vote Labour” in 2002, as filmed by Colin Still.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Do Anything You Want To Do: England’s Beat School, from 1961

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Established by James East in the 1950s, Burgess Hill School (aka the Beat School) in Hertfordshire, England, allowed its pupils to do what they wanted, in the belief this was the best way for youngsters to learn. Rules were frowned upon, and “Tradition,” it was claimed, “was clinging to the dead past.” Even smoking in class was tolerated, for as Headmaster East explained to Time Magazine in 1962:

“Kids always smoke, and I’d rather know about it than have it done in secret.”

Such openness encouraged the young uns to fulfill their potential, and find happiness in doing so, which is how it should be.

Like the best of the British Pathe clips, this short clip on Burgess Hill Beat School leaves you wanting to know more. What happened to the school? Did the experiment of a Beat School work? What did these children grow up to do? Where are they now? It would make for an interesting documentary on BBC 4, and one hopes a dozen researchers are penning such a proposal right now.

A longer 4 minutes clip is viewable here.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Original Beats: A film on Herbert Huncke and Gregory Corso

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Original Beats is a short documentary film by Francois Bernadi on Gregory Corso and Herbert Huncke.

Huncke was the original Beat. He coined the term, lived the life and was on the road long before Kerouac. Here he talks about his life as petty criminal, drug user and Beat writer. 

Corso believed the poet and his life are inseparable. It was a belief he held true, otherwise the poet couldn’t write like a lion, write truthfully.

This is a fascinating and informative portrait on the eldest and the youngest of the original Beats, filmed shortly before Huncke’s death in 1996.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Beatdom: David S Wills & Spencer Kansa keeping to the Beat

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Those with an interest in writers following on from the Beat tradition may like Spencer Kansa‘s first novel Zoning. The story is about zoning - traveling without moving - and the strange interactions between teenage occultist, Astral Boy and Skyrise Kid, a young budding porn star.  We’re in familiar territory here, and Kansa is a fan of William Burroughs, who said of Spencer’s book:

“Zoning reads like an urban Celine.”

It’s the first imprint from Beatdom Books, a small independent publisher, set up by a young Scot, David S Wills, in 2007. Willis also publishes a non-profit literary journal dedicated to the study of the Beat Generation, publishing Beat inspired poetry and prose. He has also issued Beatdom’s second book The Dog Farm - based on Wills’ experiences of living and working in South Korea.

Beatdom is well worth checking out and you can find details of Spencer’s novel Zoning and Willis’s The Dog Farm here.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
It’s William Burroughs’ Birthday

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Happy Birthday William Burroughs, born today in 1914, one of the most “culturally influential, and innovative artists of the twentieth century.”

Here’s Burroughs in the “informal documentary” The Commissioner of Sewers from 1991, where he discusses his writing, his life, his thoughts on art, literature, and the use of language as a weapon, his world view, as well as space and time travel, mummification, and politics.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Lee Harris - Foot Soldier for Counter Culture

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Lee Harris is a playwright, poet, publisher and “foot soldier” of the UK’s counter culture. Born in Johannesburg in 1936, Harris was one of the few whites on the African National Congress, opposing segregation during the time of Apartheid, and was involved with the Congress of the People rally in Soweto in 1955.

Harris arrived in the UK in 1956, to study drama, after college, he had a small part in Orson Welles’ film Chimes at Midnight and later worked in theater. 

A major turning point for Harris came on the 11 June 1965, when he first heard Allen Ginsberg at the decade defining International Poetry Reading at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

We turned up in our thousands to hear some of the best poets of the Beat Generation. When Allen Ginsberg stood up to read his poems you could feel an electric charge in the air. There he was, like an Old Testament prophet, with his long dark hair and bushy beard, his voice reverberating with emotional intensity. Never before in that hallowed hall had such outrageous and colorful language been heard…..Hearing Allen that first time was a revelatory and illuminating experience.

That event and his presence in London that summer, helped kindle the spark that set the underground movement alight in the mid-sixties.

Harris began to write plays with Buzz Buzz and then wrote the critically acclaimed Love Play, which was performed at the Arts Lab in 1967 - a highly important venue for alternative arts, founded by Jim Haynes, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono exhibited and David Bowie performed. It was during this time Harris became acquainted with William Burroughs, Frank Zappa, Ken Kesey and toured with The Fugs.

Harris wrote for the International Times and in 1972 established the first “head shop” Alchemy in London on the Portobello Road, where he sold “paraphenalia” brought back from India and counter culture books.

“I’d started off in the West End before as an anarchist trader selling psychedelic posters in the late sixties you see because I did not know how to make a living. I ended up in the Portobello Road, making chokers, selling chillums, first because that was the in thing with beads.

I had traded at many festivals so it was natural for me and I started to be a sort of medicine head, with Tiger Balm, Herbs and I believed in cannabis as the ‘healing herb’.

It was here that Harris was famously prosecuted for selling cigarette papers. The shop was a focus for alternative culture, and it was here Harris began publishing underground ‘zines, including Jim Haynes, infamous drug-smuggler Howard Marks, and artist, journalist and activist Caroline Coon.
 

 
Part two of ‘Life and Works of Lee Harris’ plus bonus Lee Harris and the Beat Hotel, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Independence: Allen Ginsberg’s “America” Interpreted

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My college friend Alex Marshall surfaced this excellent montage (done apparently by a filmmaker named Azure Pepe Valencia) of Ginsberg’s classic 1956 poem to the country, the ideal, the situation. Hurrah for independence!
 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Burroughs vs. Kerouac!
11.24.2009
12:23 pm

Topics:
Heroes

Tags:
Beats
Burroughs
Kerouac
Paul Di Filippo

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Via Paul Di Filippo. Paul captions: “I’m the King of the Beats!” “No, I am!”

Written by Jason Louv | Discussion
RIP Lenore Kandel, Beat Poet, Counterculture Stalwart

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The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the passing of poet Lenore Kandel, a SF beat and anarchist who provoked censorship furor with her graphic poetry compilation The Love Book:

Lenore Kandel hung out with Beat poets and was immortalized by Jack Kerouac, wrote a book of love poetry banned as obscene and seized by police, and believed in communal living, anarchic street theater, belly dancing, and all things beautiful.

Ms. Kandel, a lyric poet and one of the shining lights of San Francisco’s famous counterculture of the ‘60s, died on Oct. 18 in San Francisco. She was 77 and had been diagnosed with lung cancer two weeks earlier.

“I met Lenore in 1965 at a citywide meeting of artists opposed to the war in Vietnam,” said actor Peter Coyote. “Lenore was physically beautiful and physically commanding. She had this voluptuous plumpness about her and an absolute serenity.”

(Lenore Kandel via Arthur Magazine)

Written by Jason Louv | Discussion