Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bohemians, Beats, Hippies and Punks

The mainstream comes to you, but you have to go to the underground.
     --Frank Zappa

So every generation has got to tear down the old and rebel with the new--creative destruction to borrow a term from the economists.  Here's a short list of some books on the life of the cultural underground.


1.  Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell (1933).  Before his success as a writer, Orwell lived in near-poverty working as dishwasher and other menial jobs.  This Mostly autobiographical, part novel, Orwell's life among the bottom rung of Bohemians in the early 1930s.  Bought new.














 


2.  Down and In: Life in the Underground, Ronald Sukenick (1987).   Sukenick tells the history of Greenwich Village and how this small part of Manhattan became the center of artistic life for Hipsters, Beatniks, Hippies  and Punks.   Maps with landmarks and black and white pictures.  Bought new on a remainder rack.












 

3.  Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties, Robert Stone (2007).   Before novelist Robert Stone gained success as the author of Hall of Mirrors, Dog Soldiers and later books, he lived the life of a gypsy in the 1960s.  Stone was friends with Ken Kesey and witness to his rise and fall with the merry pranksters.  Good stories and no shortage of drugs.  Bought new.















 


4.  Burning Book: A Visual History of Burning Man, Jessica Bruder (2007).  Burning man is an extravaganza of creative, independent revelry set in the middle of Nevada's Black Rock Desert.  Bruder's book is full of color pictures on every page giving an account of how Burning Man started and illustrating what it had become.  Christmas gift from a cousin in lieu of our commitment to leave our families and attend the actual event.  

 

 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Song of Hiawatha

I grew up around the names of Native Americans.  Sandusky (Wyandot for cold water), on Lake Erie and Huron High School across from Shawnee Place and down the road from Miami Place and Tecumseh Place.  Summers in Northern Michigan looking out t the Manitou Islands and hearing the Chippewa legend of the Sleeping Bear.   To the north, the land of Hiawatha.  Here's my collection of Native American books.

1.  Four American Indians: King Philip, Pontiac, Tecumseh, Osceola, Edison Whitney and Frances Perry (1904).  Histories of four great Native American leaders published as a text book for high schools.   Heavy stock paper with illustrations.  Bought used at the State Department Bookstore with a personal library stamp, William Locke.




2.  Indian Stories, Major Cicero Newell (1912).  Also a school book explaining Native American family life, their skills at hunting and fighting.  Focuses mostly on Dakota tribe.  Illustrations and pictures and well organized.  Curious note inside on fly-leaf, "3 oldest members of U.S. Senate Carter Glass 82, Norris 73 M. Henry King"  Bought used someplace.

















3.  On the Rez, Ian Frazier (2001).  Frazier spent a time on modern day Indian Reservations, especially that of the Oglala Sioux,  in the plains and badlands of the American West. Crazy Horse, perhaps the greatest Indian war leader of the 1800s, and Black Elk, the holy man whose teachings achieved worldwide renown, were Oglala.  Bought used at B.J.'s Books, Warrenton, VA.




4.  Dictionary of the Amerian Indian, John Stoutenbugh, Jr (1960),  Reference book of 431 pages of entries from Aatsosni to Zuni.   Ex Libris Stamp for Opal Durrer Chrickenberger.  Bought used somewhere.




















5.  Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival, Velma Walllis (1993).  Based on an Athabaskan Indian legend of two elderly woman abandoned by a migrating tribe in the upper Yukon River in Alaska.  Stamped withdrawn from Berlin Township Public Library, Berlin, OH; bought from the Library's used book sale.  













6.  Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Susan Jeffers (1996).  Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha illustrated as a children's book.  "On the shores of Gitche Gumee, Of the shining Big-Sea-Water..."  Bought new.

















7.  Amercian Hertiage Book of Indians (1961).  Color plate illustrations, maps and sketches.   Christmas 1973.









Friday, May 3, 2013

AMERICA FROM THE OUTSIDE IN

It's difficult to be objective about yourself.  Sometimes it takes an outsider to offer a different perspective.  As Americans, our natural disposition is to be liked.  But that's not always the case.  Here's my short collection of outsiders who have come to America and reported their findings.  Some admirers; some less so.

1.  Cio America!  An Italian Discovers the U.S.  Beppe Severgnini (1995).  Columbus discovered America and five hundred years later, Italian journalist, Beppe Severgnini, rented a row house in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood and recorded his observations for the next year.  Severgnini offers a wonderful sense of detachment to make his observations amusing showing affection for America but also gently poking fun.  Bought used somewhere.



2.  American Notes: A Journey, Charles Dickens (1842; Fromm edition, 1985).  In 1842, Charles Dickens toured the U.S. writing about Wall Street, the prison system, slavery and the American press.  He didn't like America much concluding that we were a bunch of "intensified bores."  Bought used at the State Department Bookstore.  



3.  American Journals, Albert Camus.  Nobel laureate Camus kept journals of his travels to North and South America between 1946 to 1949.  In his notes on the U.S. he writes that "everything in America is done to prove that life is not tragic."   Christmas gift 1987 from my mother at the end of my "Camus phase".  



4.  The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America, Bill Bryson (2001).  Bryson, an Iowa native, lived an ex-pat life in the U.K. for 25 years and returned to the U.S. for a look around.  He's included here because his 25 years give him the outsider's eye.   I'm a big Bryson fan but a lot of his remarks in Lost seem like he's whining about easy targets in small town America.  Bought used somewhere.



5.  Broken Image: Foreign Critics of America, ed. by Gerald Emanuel Stern (1972).  Mostly a collection of Europeans who had contempt for America: Lenin, H.G. Wells, Sigmund Freud ("I regret Columbus ever discovered it!"), and Hitler.  Bought used somewhere.

6.  Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville (1835; 1946 edition).  Described as "perhaps the greatest work ever written on one country by the citizen of another."  De Tocqueville traveled extensively through the U.S. in the early 1830s.   He offered extensive and often prescient observations of the U.S. political and legal system.    Inscription: "Christmas 1946 Annabelle, Loreine and J.T. Kendrick, American Embassy, Warsaw, Poland."  Bought used at the State Department Bookstore.