Allen Ginsberg called the group most frequently considered Beats – himself, Kerouac, Burroughs, Cassady - ‘the libertine circle’. He wrote this after the murder of David Kammerer by Lucian Carr, the first major scandal to rock the Beats. The Beats were frequently tied to scandal. They were famous literary types who indulged in hedonistic and alternative lifestyles, consuming drink and drugs, having sex and listening to dangerous music. They were the libertines of their time, in the public eye and painfully misunderstood by their contemporaries.
Pete Doherty needs no introduction on this side of the Atlantic. The poor bastard is notorious in a time when notoriety means front page pics for no damn reason at all. If he smokes a cigarette, it’s called a joint, and some oh-so-witty headline is plastered in red across the top of the page. Every time he’s with a girl, it’s a date; when he’s tired, he’s on crack; when he’s on holiday, it’s rehab; when he move house, he’s been kicked out. And very little attention is given to his obvious genius, save for the constant, over-the-top swooning coverage given to him by NME, desperate to cotton on to any new trend. Forget his music, forget his poetry… He’s taking crack! He’s painting with blood! He is the new Jack Kerouac. History’s full of bright young men with too much talent. They see the world too clearly to live a normal life. They see the crap most people just don’t notice, and consequently they’re forced to live different lives to the rest of the rabble, and are ostracised and admired in a shocking concoction of media vulturism and general hysteria. They’re self-destructive rebels with nothing to lose. No scandal will ever bring them down to the level of ignorance occupied by their fans and detractors, and only death will gain them the respect and understanding they may or may not desire. They do what they want because they are smarter than those that make the rules in the first place, and because they can see through the crap that the rest are fed by those in charge. They take drugs to numb the pain caused by seeing reality to clearly; to experiment with mind expansion and to shun daft rules; on principals because it should be a basic and fundamental right; because they know fine well that all there is in life that’s worth doing is having fun; because they are addicted, being only human in spite of their intelligence; to feel a sense of longing in a society that cares not for their true talents… They break the law because they no better than to take shit from fools in uniforms, upholding the nonsensical and outdated gibberish we call the law. No, society should be a hierarchy of intelligence, not of wealth and power and tradition… They draw jealousy from society because they are talented and wild and hedonistic, doing things most can’t or won’t do, and then writing, painting or singing about it. So the world loves to read ‘Kate Dumps Potty Pete!’ in The Sun over their buttered toast and tea, and talk ignorantly about him to their retarded friends in broken English and hideous dialects, in scummy houses, before going to their crappy jobs… And it wasn’t much different with Kerouac or Byron or Burns or any other the other talented misfits who have brightened the world in death. There’s nothing that soothes the soul like taking some ill-founded moral high-ground and spitting down on your superiors…
But enough of the rebel side of our modern Beat. Enough ranting and madness and chastising ignorant fools. Who wants the respect of these greasy fuckers anyway? Doherty is a learned man and an anti-academic. He knows literature, film and music. But his are the modern classics and the same sort of thing that drove the Beats wild. His poets are the Romantics, his music the rebellious sound of youth, and his films the dangerous tales of contemporary society. Who cannot see in the punk, post-punk and Brit-pop eras a similarity in attitude to the jazz era that lifted the Beats? And the influence of Blake is obvious in both Ginsberg and Doherty. Were their earlier works not separated by almost half a century, surely the list would go on and on and on. But through literary chains we can see the influences upon influences upon influences that inspire generation after generation, resulting in what we have now, whether the focus of that is writing or music. And even if the don’t share the same influences exactly, the certainly share the same sort. And apart from the general chastisement of the awful ignorant public, radical libertine wordsmiths have brought poetry to the disaffected youths of the world and inspired creativity. Remember, ‘three people do not a generation make.’ The Beats were heroes to mad young men and women searching for something outwith the norm. All through history we see dedicated fans seeking solace in their anguished idols. And Doherty has certainly brought poetry back to the sort of people to whom it has been lost for a long time. The delicious irony is that it’s the loathing and condemnation of society that drives their young into the hazy embrace of these mad rebels. When Doherty was a 16 yr old fledgling poet, he read at places like the Foundry bar, and still posts his poems on his website, and does the occasional poetry festival between touring, binging and jail. He still reads alongside poets he started out with, often accompanied by music, and with whom he got drunk in Moscow on an earlier, council-sponsored, poetry reading… The comparisons with the café readings, friend circles and Six Gallery legends are obvious. Pete Doherty is Beaten man, through and through.
I just interviewed Barry Gifford today for the first issue of Beatdom. Despite the best efforts of Virgin Media, I managed to get the interview done. Virgin Media claims we have not paid a bill that we can prove we have paid, but they cut our internet and phone so we couldn't complain, and have added on other fictional charges. They are cheap, cheating scum and fuck them all to death. Anyway, despite their best attempts, we got the interview. Barry Gifford is another big name and a massive boost for the magazine's sales. He's a Beat fan and a great writer in his own right.
Beatdom will be available at the end of August, via Lulu.com. There will be three editions of the first issue: - One... The full, uncut, glossy, photography infused, graphically awesome, original edition, priced at around nine pounds sterling. - Two... The black and white, text based, chapbook edition, at a reduced price. - Three... A downloadable pdf version of the original edition, costing only one pound.
No money will be made by the magazine from sales from the print editions, but after three months, the money garnered through sales of the downloadable edition will be used to reduce the cost of Edition One, which will be available, signed, through the editors.
We are again a beaten generation, suffering amid unrivalled prosperity… Lost in ignorance in a time of education… Confused and controlled and taught too many things… Tamed by a world of passivity and acceptance, obscured by pretensions and the illusion of revolution… We are tired of the benefits wrought by the Beats and the generations and movements they inspired… Ours is a generation looking to the past, like theirs, but lost in the present and uncaring for the future, I suppose, like them… Beatdom examines the Beat Generation in depth, but looks at the world around us through eyes created by our predecessors, and exploits the talents of people learning from the artists of the past, struggling to survive in a world of apathy… Beatdom is indulgence and sorrow combined and confused and seeking clarity and union and that sense of community that’s garnered by something as simple as a label… Beatdom is in good company, downtrodden all, and fighting for the preservation of the past and the highlighting of the failures and injustices of the present, though sceptical of even contemplating the future… Beatdom is in the later stages of production, open to submissions and criticism, and now more than a dream…
Our possible investors, Trespass Clothing Inc., today pulled out of advertising in Beatdom. So we're back to advertising stuff we believe in at no cost... an admirable pursuit, but not one that will finance a magazine. The guy I spoke to resented my inability to demand an exact monetary value for a double page spread, and my apparent colloqial response. At the risk of sounding childish: Go fuck yourselves, you cheap whorish swine. You're money would have been nice, but I loath your company, your values and your arogance. I resent playing up to it for so long. Fuck you. Which leads me to the conclusion that money must be sought... Get in touch with me if you're a wealthy idiot that likes throwing his cash around.
It occurs to me that this blog has become more about Beatdom Magazine and Godless: Fragments of Contemporary Society than about Who Is Rodney Munch? So I've changed the blog title to Beatdom and The World of Rodney Munch. The reason is basically that editing Beatdom and promoting Godless has pretty much taken over my life, whereas Rodney Munch banter has become a thing of the past. Some day soon I'll finish editing it and publish the book, and then you'll seen some Rodney Munch posts, but until then this blog is more about my work in general.
I used MySpace to promote Godless last night, and have had some success and interest through this, so hopefully that'll inspire me to get on with more Munching about. More maybe it'll throw me further into promoting Godless and getting more sales...