Skip to main content

the Beats

Illustration by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Travel Journals

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is well known as a poet and artist, publisher of fellow Beat writers, and cofounder of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. But his extensive notebooks in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, cast [...]

Wayne Thiebuad, San Francisco West Side Ridge, 2001. Oil on canvas, 36 x 36”.  (ART ©WAYNE THIEBAUD / LICENSED BY VAGA, NEW YORK, NY. COURTESY OF SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM, WASHINGTON DC / ART RESOURCE, NY)

Fifteen Takes on California

California as land’s end, world’s end: It collapses underneath the weight of such a reading, as it must. It reveals the limits of our history—demographic history, social history, history of technology, our sense of this place as final landscape, last territory on the continent, where we face ourselves because there is nowhere to turn.

The Kerouac Voice

Once upon a time in America, five dollars would buy enough gas to drive from Tucson, Arizona, to California. This was during the postwar 1940s, when Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady were making the cross-country road trips, at speeds over a hundred miles an hour, that would provide Kerouac with the material for his classic Beat novel, On the Road.