Often when I post here, I try to consider Los Angeles less a focus and more a prism. That said: I couldn’t help but not linger on the passages about Los Angeles in the new collection of Lawrence Ferlinghetti journals, Writing Across the Landscapes.
Though there wasn’t room to cite it in my review, I keep thinking about this vivid glimpse of an unexpected Los Angeles.
This entry reads like the photographs of Gordon Parks, Robert Frank — or the photo above captured by Larry Winogrand from the same period.
Here’s a little fragment of an image/thought montage.
It’s just a moment. A 50-year-old L.A. moment
Came upon Los Angeles by bus at night … Ah the crazy hotels, crazy streets, sad signs of America –Jesus Saves!–Tom’s Tattoo–The Electric Rembrandt–Snooker Parlor–“Acres of Autos”– Hotel Small — Ice Rink–Greyhound — Los Angeles Street -TV in Rooms –eat–Barber and Beauty Supply–Pawnshop–“Shave Yourself” —
Might as well be on the Trans-Siberian Railway …
Strange people waiting in Greyhound Bus Depot: One all-leather cat with cowboy hat — tight motorcycle pants with zippers on slash pockets and lithe padlocks on each zipper–same on tight jacket — all black leather ….Animated, talking to a Negro also in cycle suit only much less flashy.
And lonely the hotel doors, gaping. And lonely the lobbies, lonely the beds! Forever & ever…Lonely the lunchrooms, lonely the cars running in the streets … Lonely Los Angeles, lonely world!
Sure are a lot of defeated people in this here America …”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti –Los Angeles, 1964
Letters are available at City Lights Books. The journals publish, Sept. 7
I JUST finished floating through nearly 900 pages of dreamy recollections — those of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Two books arrive, just months apart, that provide a fresh look at the publisher and poet who was responsible for creating the necessary support for a new generation of thinkers and writers. Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books — both the publisher and book store — has served as north star in San Francisco’s North Beach for generations. I review two books for the Los Angeles Times — Writing Across the Landscape: Travel Journals: 1960-2010 and “I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career” The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg – 1955-1997 .
You can find the review here.
Both books are beautiful offerings. The journals, a vivid testament to the life of the mind; the letters, a celebration of the evolution of a long and tender friendship.
“I felt the sensation of each of the directions I mentally and emotionally turned into amazed at all the possible directions you can take with different motives that come in like it can make you a different person — I’ve often thought of this since childhood of suppose instead of going up Columbus as I usually did I’d turn into Filbert would something happen that at the time is insignificant enough but would be like enough to influence my whole life in the end? — What’s in store for me in the direction I don’t take?”
― Jack Kerouac, The Subterraneans
Born March 12, 1922
NEXT GLIMPSE at the film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur coming around the corner ….
This would have been the big 9-0.
To commemorate, Flavorwire is offering a reflective post of some of Kerouac’s “life advice.”
This post’s title is one of the pearls, there’s this too:
“The best teacher is experience and not through someone’s distorted point of view.” — On the Road.
image via flavorwire