When to Plan and When to Pants

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In the commentary on her video collection, Stevie Nicks says that the vocal on her hit “I Can’t Wait” is the first take, and that she knew she nailed it as soon as she finished. Bob Seger was called in at the last minute to record “Shakedown” when Glenn Frey got laryngitis; he also rewrote the lyrics, and got his … Read More

The wacky comradeship of the Beats

Clockwise from left: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Lafcadio Orlovsky, and Gregory Corso in 1956.

“New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets.”–Jack Kerouac I love reading about the Beat Generation. This is not the same, I hasten to add, as actually reading the work of the Beats, which can be hard going for someone used to more traditional forms of writing. But the … Read More

The profit motive (or, the prophet motive)

Recently on my Facebook/Twitter feed I posted a bit of Roger Ebert’s review of the new Julia Roberts movie, Eat Pray Love: “[To like the movie] I guess you have to belong to the narcissistic subculture of Woo-Woo.” I quoted it because I found it funny, and should make clear right now that I have neither read nor seen the book/movie … Read More

The Holy Goof and my own Dean Moriarty(s)

The Holy Goof by the late William Plummer is a biography of one of the greatest literary figures to never write anything substantial–his best-known work is a fragment of a letter. But Sherlock Holmes’ words to Watson might also describe Neal Cassady’s relationship to Jack Kerouac (On the Road), Allen Ginsberg (Howl), Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) … Read More