Skip to comments.Kill Your Darlings (How Beatniks Are Made)
Posted on 11/02/2013 2:29:16 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Postcard from the old days. College students in duffle coats, hanging out in Greenwich Village coffee houses, arguing about Yeats and Whitman, in a lather over jazz, experimenting with sex and dope, bursting with non-commercial creativity, crazy to revolutionize, doomed peach-fuzz romantics trying to one-up Arthur Rimbaud.
Kill Your Darlings narrowcasts us back to the young explorations of Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), fledgling holy man and tentative poetic conscience of howling modernity, during his studies at Columbia in 1944. The director, John Krokidas, and his co-writer Austin Bunn throw the era in our face in huge jangling chunks gorgeous sound engineering daring us to look at life the way the sensitive kid from New Jersey does. Ginsberg is on his way to becoming a Beat, maybe the first, and so we meet the most important of his proto-beatnik pals: William Burroughs (Ben Foster, in an immaculate impersonation), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), and a boyish chap named Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), Allen's campus roommate, who falls in love with him. Lucien has problems over and above getting drunk and abusing methamphetamines.
Actor Radcliffe continues his exit from the Harry Potter franchise by choosing another meaty part that has nothing to do with secret spells junkies and queers, yes, but no flying dragons. This Ginsberg is complicated. He sees things others do not, like Harry. Holding up their side of the earth are Jennifer Jason Leigh as Ginsberg's disturbed mother Naomi, John Callum as the lit prof who provides the title advice, Elizabeth Olsen as Kerouac's girlfriend Edie, and, as the fulcrum of the piece, Michael C. Hall's David Kammerer, host of the late-late hate show. Kammerer and Ginsberg both love Lucien Carr. So does every sailor who hits New York. Something's gotta give. No wonder Ginsberg lit out for Benares and San Francisco. "Another lover hits the universe." The Beats just keep on coming.
I was born in Greenwich Village during the Beat era. What a pathetic waste of human potential.
Re-your comment #1...fantastic! That would be worthy of Tom Waits.
“daring us to look at life the way the sensitive kid from New Jersey does...”
Is Jersey known for its weak kids now? That’s depressing. Must be all the unnecessary Ritalin.
I ust’a dig this shit
Carolyn Cassady, who was married to Neal Cassady, the model for Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty, recently passed away. Her book, Off The Road, detailing her experiences with Kerouac and Ginsberg is now out in Kindle format. Excellent reading if the inside view of the “beat generation” interests you.
I’ve never read any Jack Kerouac, but supposedly he ended his life as a devout Catholic, and he was extremely anti-communist, apparently a great admirer of Senator McCarthy.
The only thing worst than “intellectuals” are the second and third rate ones.
Well, that happens. Kinda like Bukowski.
Interesting. I don’t know if this is in the same vein, but there’s also Ringolevio, by Emmett Grogan, which is a look at what happened in the 60’s from a low-key but influential player, though maybe of more questionable morals and veracity - he died of a heroin overdose, and some of his story is allegedly invented for dramatic effect.
Had he not thrown his life away with booze and benz, Kerouac was on the path to writing the sort of book Wolfe was working on, but the vantage of a disillusioned insider.
I was exposed to a hearty dose of Ginsburg, Keroac, Ferlinghetti, and the likes, as a Literature major. As a returning Vn era veteran, I could identify with the insanity, rebellion. Read “Howl” by Ginsburg if you dare. It is pure counter culture. Spawn of this generation of degenerates include Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, Leonard Cohen and many other poets and musicians that took root in the early 60’s. It was a wild and crazy time and place. Keroac must have had a few moments of clarity in his later years to adopt a political posture as you describe. I always figured them to be to self-centered and self-destructive to subscribe to anything but anarchy. Interesting topic.
“too self centered”
I’ll check that out. One of the striking things about Carolyn’s book is how unliberated women were at the time. She was a well educated English gal who spent most of her time waiting faithfully at home while the boys slept around with each other and anyone else passing by.
Kerouac’s On The Road is four bucks at Amazon Kindle. Read it in the late 50’s and again last year. It still holds up. It’s rumored to have been the basis for the Route 66 TV Series. Kerouac’s Big Sur, on the other hand, is thoroughly depressing, and an inside view of cracking up.
Fehrlinghetti visited San Diego State in the early 60’s. He was still on the Longshoreman/poet trip at the time. Interesting and articulate dude.
Bad poetry can do in anyone.
Oh wait. He's creative. A genius. He's got the genius pass.
I like the MAD Magazine parody of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, as a beatnik would do it.
Friends, Romans, hipsters,
Let me clue you in;
I come to put down Caesar, not to groove him.
The square kicks some cats are on stay with them;
The hip bits, like, go down under;
So let it lay with Caesar. The dude Brutus
Gave you the message Caesar had big eyes;
If that’s the sound, someone’s copping a plea,
And, like, old Caesar really set them straight.
Here, copacetic with Brutus and the studs,—
For Brutus is a real cool cat;
So are they all, all cool cats,—
Come I to make this gig at Caesar’s lay down.
He was my boy, the most and real gone to me;
But, like, Brutus pegs him as having big eyes;
And old Brutus is a real cool cat.
He copped a lot of swinging heads for home,
Which put us way out with that loot;
Does this give Caesar big eyes?
When the square cats bawled, Caesar flipped;
Big eyes should be made of more solid megillah;
Yet Brutus pegs him as having big eyes;
And Brutus is a real cool cat.
You all dug that bit at the Lupercal scene
Three times I bugged him with the King’s lid,
And three times he hung me up; was this big eyes?
Yet Brutus pegs him with big eyes;
And, sure, he is a real cool cat.
I don’t want to double-O what Brutus gummed,
But, like, I only dig what comes on straight
You all got a charge out of him once,
So how come you don’t cry the blues for him?
Man! You are real nowhere,
You don’t make it anymore. Don’t cut out on me;
My guts are in the pad there with Caesar,
And I gotta stop swinging till they round-trip.
“Allan Ginsberg said he saw the best minds of his generation destroyed by madness. I have seen the best minds of my generation go at a bottle of Anacin with a ball-peen hammer.” —P.J. O’Rourke
I may or may not have responded to this, but that’s a great poem, and I’m going to save it.
“What we really need to do around here is to shoot a few more intellectuals” - Nikita Kruschev
One of the greatest shows that’s ever been on television. So far ahead of its time.
I still think #3’s pretty good. And I wasn’t even trying.