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San Francisco Fifty Years Ago

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  • Bureau of Public Secrets
    SAN FRANCISCO FIFTY YEARS AGO (Kenneth Rexroth s columns for the San Francisco Examiner) http://www.bopsecrets.org/rexroth/sfe/ In January 1960 the San
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 22, 2010
      (Kenneth Rexroth's columns for the San Francisco Examiner)

      In January 1960 the San Francisco Examiner (a Hearst newspaper) offered
      Kenneth Rexroth a job writing a weekly column. He accepted. By May 1961 the
      column had proved popular enough that he was asked to do two and sometimes
      even three per week.

      The association was an odd one. Although Rexroth was by that time a
      well-known figure in the Bay Area, he was known primarily as a political and
      cultural radical, and even (somewhat misleadingly) as "the godfather of the
      Beat Generation." But he was willing to work for the Examiner as long as
      they gave him complete freedom to write whatever he wanted. They did so
      until June 1967, when they fired him after he wrote a particularly scathing
      article about the American police.

      All told, Rexroth wrote approximately 700 columns for the Examiner.
      I am tentatively planning to post all of them 50 years after their original
      appearance. If all goes well and don't get OD'd with the project, it will be
      completed on June 18, 2017.

      Normally I plan to post each column on the exact 50th anniversary of its
      original appearance. But to kick-start the series, I have posted the first
      five all at once -- January 31, 1960, plus the four from February.

      Needless to say, the columns vary widely in topic and interest. Some offer
      incisive commentary that remains astonishingly relevant on all sorts of
      general issues, social, political, cultural, urbanistic and ecological.
      Others are more dated, such as reviews of particular musical or theatrical
      performances. I think you will find, however, that his remarks about even
      the most ephemeral topics are full of amusing observations and perceptive
      insights; and that the ensemble constitutes a unique and fascinating
      chronicle of those eventful years.

      The complete columns are being posted at

      As a preview of things to come, you can also explore my earlier selection of
      some of the more interesting columns at

      The Bureau of Public Secrets website features writings by Ken Knabb,
      Knabb's translations from the Situationist International, and the Rexroth
      Archive (texts by and about the great writer and social critic Kenneth
      Messages such as this are sent out every month or so announcing the
      latest additions to the BPS website. If you do not wish to receive such
      announcements, please reply to this message with "NO THANKS" in
      the subject line.

      P.O. Box 1044, Berkeley CA 94701

      "Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."
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