The Dream Machine: the Beat Generation & the Counterculture, 1940 -1975 which is currently on exhibit at the Robert Woodruff Library on the Emory University campus grabbed my attention in unexpected ways when I visited last month. As a baby boomer, I knew some of the basics about the beats – Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and William S. Burroughs, but I will admit that I have hardly read them. I have not even read Kerouac’s On the Road or The Dharma Bums nor could I finish The Subterraneans. However, one passage of Kerouac’s prose always comes mind when I cross-paths with a person who is that rare combination of energy and wackiness:
Part of the Dream Machine exhibit is the collection of little hand printed booklets, newsletters in Courier type, mimeographs in that nasty blue ink, and small press runs of poetry books. These still live today as zines and poetry chap books and high-tech sophisticated blogs. What made this exhibit more personally enjoyable is my memories as a youth in high school, college and even post-college typing up little satires and photocopying and distributing them to friends. I have a few of them buried in my file cabinet. Potentially embarrassing, perhaps, but I won’t throw them away. The desire to write and publish runs deep and you could even say that my latest effort Down & Outbound: A Mass Transit Satire was spawned from this same do-it-yourself creative mentality.
The Dream Machine: the Beat Generation & the Counterculture, 1940 -1975 runs until May 15, 2018. One of the best ways to view it is go on the weekends. Parking is free at the Fishburne Parking Deck and the eclectic Carlos Museum Book Shop is open on Saturday and Sunday too. The little book store may even still have a copy of Down & Outbound back in their remainders section. Hurry while supplies last.